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Objectives Introduction Structure of paintings What are the most common types and causes of damage? The dos and donts of handling paintings Framing paintings Hanging paintings securely Ideal conditions for the storage and display of paintings General storage and display guidelines Summary of conditions for the storage and display Paintings in Australias climatic zones MORE ABOUT PAINTINGS Keying out What can go wrong with a stretcher and what you can do Handling straps Labels and inscriptions For further reading Self-evaluation quiz Answers to self-evaluation quiz page 126 page 126 page 126 page 126 page 126 page 127 page 129 page 111 page 111 page 111 page 114 page 115 page 118 page 120 page 121 page 122 page 124 page 124

At the end of this chapter you should: be familiar with the structure and components of various types of paintings; understand possible sources of damage for paintings; and know how to frame and hang a painting to ensure proper protection from damage.

keep the basic principles in mind, you can provide protection for all paintings. It is important to note that not all frames are protective. While a good-quality, well-constructed frame will provide protection for a painting, a poorly made frame, or one which is not properly fitted to the work, can cause damage. This section discusses good protective framing practice; it looks at the types of framing systems which are relevant for each type of painting structure and gives general information to help you prolong the lives of the paintings in your care.

Early frames were simple affairs. They were usually made from single pieces of wood which were generally either gilded or left plain. They were originally used to protect the fragile edges of panel altarpieces. Then, as paintings became more secular, frames became more decorative and were designed to complement the architecture surrounding them. So we can see that the frame on a painting serves two purposes: it has an aesthetic functionit enhances elements of the painting and unifies the painting with its environment; and it also serves as a protective device, providing a physical barrier between the environment and the artwork.

Structure of paintings
In order to discuss the possible damage to paintings and to take steps to reduce that damage, it is important to know something of the structure of paintings and the range of materials which can be used to produce them. Paintings consist at the very least of two layers: the support layer on which the image layer reststhis can be canvas, wooden panelling, or Masonite; and the image layeroil paint, acrylic paint or paint in combination with other materials.

If the support and the image layer are not securely bonded, then any movement in the support will damage the paint layer. Most paintings are more complex than this and have many more parts in their structure. A traditional painting on canvas will usually have: a sized supportin many cases canvas sized with skin glue; a priming or ground layer; the paint or image layer; a varnish layer; and an auxiliary support which provides physical support for the support layer.

Additional protective components can be added to the frame to: protect the back and front of the artwork from knocks and abrasions; minimise the effects of vibration and movement;

enable the work to be hung securely; facilitate handling; and protect the work from dust and pollution.

Many paintings, however, do not have frames, or they have flimsy and inadequate original frames. Such works are more difficult to protect; but if you

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The term support refers to the layer which carries or supports the paint or image layer. Paintings can be produced on any type of support. Traditionally, most supports have been made from linen canvas or wooden panels.

paper glued onto canvas; canvas.

The priming and ground layers

Priming and ground layers are used to: provide a good physical support for the paint layer; and provide a surface to mask the texture of the support. If there are no priming and ground layers, it may be possible to see the texture of the support through the paint.

This painting of the Destitute Asylum in Adelaide has been removed from its stretcher for treatment. The canvas support can be clearly seen around the edges of the image. Photograph courtesy Artlab Australia, reproduced with permission of the Historic Trust of South Australia

A good ground layer physically keys in the paint layer as it is slightly porous. The ground layer, however, should not be very absorbent. It must be slightly resistant to the paint, otherwise brushstrokes will not be clear and will sink into the ground. The support is sized, usually with rabbit-skin glue; and then the ground layers are applied. Works on canvas usually have two ground layers, although having one or three is not uncommon.

This icon is painted on a wooden panel. Photograph courtesy Artlab Australia, reproduced with permission of Mr Kostya Prosylis

If the ground layers are not well bonded to the support, then movement of the support may lead to a delamination or cracking of the ground. In addition, if the ground layers are not properly prepared or do not provide a secure base for the paint layerthey may not be porous enough to hold the paint for examplethen problems with the paint layer will occur. A traditional ground was usually made from lead white or a chalk gesso. Acrylic grounds are now common. While grounds are generally white, some artists, John Constable for instance, favoured coloured grounds. The layers of size and ground can be very reactive; and if they are wet they will cause severe damage to the paint layers.

In the 20th century, linen canvas has often been replaced by cotton duck, and wooden panels with compressed particle board such as Masonite. Artists are creative beings and there are a wide range of materials which have been used in the name of art! They include: rigid wooden supports such as particle board products like chipboard or Masonite or the traditional wooden panels; rigid supports made from a range of other materials such as glass or metal; lightweight cottons or Nylon loosely stretched, which some artists use to give a feeling of fluidity;

The paint layer

The paint layer or image layer can be made up of paint and a number of other materials, including paper or found objects in collage.

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Oil paint is the traditional paint medium, however, in more recent times synthetic materials such as acrylics and alkaloid resins are common. Oil paint dries by evaporation, and then by a chemical crosslinking process. This means that it becomes less flexible as it ages.

The corners of the stretcher are adjustable, enabling the dimensions of the stretcher to be enlarged to tighten the canvas. This is done by pushing the keys further into the keyholes, and expanding the corners.

The varnish layer

Varnishes are applied on top of the paint layer. They are applied as liquids and dried to produce clear, tough films. They protect the paint layerto a degree depending on their compositionfrom physical damage and chemical attack. Varnishes also have an aesthetic function: they smooth out the unevenness of the paint surface so preventing light being scattered when it is reflected. This gives the colours in the work a more saturated appearancethe colours appear darker and have greater depth. It is important to note that further paint layers and transparent coloured layers known as glazes may be applied over the varnish layer. This technique produces an illusion of depth. A range of materials have been used as varnishes. Among the most stable are: Dammar dissolved in turpentinethis is an example of a traditional varnish made from natural resins dissolved in solvents; and acrylic resins dissolved in petroleum spirit.
A stretchernote the keys in the corners. Photograph courtesy of Artlab Australia

CAUTION: Because inappropriate tightening of the canvas can cause damage, you need to know what you are doing, or be shown by a conservator, before you commence keying out a work. A strainer is a wooden frame which does not have adjustable corners. Therefore if the canvas becomes loose over time, it cannot be made taut again without being re-stretchedthis is a job for a conservator.

Auxiliary supports
A strainer.

Traditionally, paintings on canvas have been attached to auxiliary supportsusually a stretcher or a strainerusing staples or tacks. The purpose of the auxiliary support is to secure the canvas and keep it taut. It is important to keep the support as taut as possibleloose supports will undergo far greater dimensional change in response to fluctuations and so are much more vulnerable to damage. A stretcher differs from a strainer in that the corners of a stretcher can be keyed out, thereby tightening the canvas.

Photograph courtesy of Artlab Australia

Examples of other auxiliary supports include: cradles placed on the backs of panel paintings; and wooden frames used to secure Masonite supports.

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What are the most common types and causes of damage?

As with most cultural material, the deterioration of paintings is caused by physical damage and chemical activityusually in combination. Physical damage is very obvious and includes: Tears and breaks. For example, many canvas paintings are damaged when people are working near the paintings and accidentally put the handle of a broom, a ladder etc. through the canvas. This is not uncommon.

Warping of the stretcher due to extremes and fluctuations in relative humidity, and lack of proper support in storage or display. Insect attack, for example, wooden stretchers can be attacked by borers and canvas and cardboard supports can be attacked by silverfish.

This stretcher had been exposed to quite extreme fluctuations in relative humidity causing it to warp severely. In time, this resulted in the structural breakdown of the stretcher with obvious damage to the canvas support. Photograph courtesy Artlab Australia

This pre-treatment photograph shows severe tears in the canvas support of a painting. Photograph courtesy Artlab Australia

Cracking of varnish and paint layers because of movement of the support, due to: vibration during handling and travel; impact when a painting is dropped, knocked or falls off a wall; and fluctuations in relative humidity. Both canvas and wood take up and release moisture as the relative humidity fluctuates. This produces dimensional changes which can lead to cracking of the paint and varnish.

Dust and dirt can distort paintings if allowed to collect between the lower stretcher bar and the canvas. This can lead to distortion of the paint layer. Dust will also take up and hold moisture, thus creating a localised area of high humidity this can lead to localised dimensional change and overall distortion. Chemical deterioration can be very damaging and will often mar the appearance of paintings. Chemical damage to paintings includes: Colour change and fading of pigments when exposed to light and UV radiation. Oil paintings are often considered to be quite stable in light, but some pigments and glazes are particularly susceptible to light damage. Discolouration of the varnish. This may be due to exposure to light and UV radiation and/or because of the natural ageing of the particular varnish.

Separation of the different layers of the painting structure. This can because by fluctuations in relative humidity and/or to impact. Softening of the varnish layer in high temperatures. The varnish can become sticky and any dust or dirt on the surface may become permanently attached to the painting.

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Changes due to the action of atmospheric pollutants, for example: colour change in pigments; breaking down of structural components leading to loss of strength; and alterations in solubility characteristics of paint films and varnishes.

This photograph taken during treatment shows clearly the degree to which varnish can discolour and alter the appearance of a painting. Photograph courtesy Artlab Australia, reproduced with permission of Mr Paul Fitzgerald

The dos and donts of handling paintings

Because paintings are such complex structures, it is important to understand correct handling procedures. Remember, a paint surface may receive a knock and appear to be unharmed. But over time movement in the canvas will cause this weakened area to crack. It can take a decade or longer for a crack to appear after a knock.

Deterioration of some components of the painting where poor-quality materials have been used or where the painting has not been properly structured. Reactions between incompatible components of the painting. This is more likely to occur when the painting is a complex collage made up of a combination of paint and a number of other materials. Cracking or movement of paint layers due to the unstable nature of one or more of the components of the painting. Bituminous additives in paint are an example of one of these unstable materials. Mould attack. All components of paintings are susceptible to mould in high-humidity conditions.

Handling stretched paintings and framed works

It is very difficult to properly support and protect paintings if you carry more than one at a time. It is important that you always carry only one painting at a time. Before moving any painting: Check that there is no flaking paint and that the work is secure in its frame. Check that there are no loose pieces on the frame. If there are, consult a conservator. Make sure you know where you are going with the work, and you have checked your path to make sure it is clear and all doors are open, or that there are people available to assist. If there is flaking paint on the painting, leave it face-up and consult a conservator. If you have to move it, carry it flat and face-up, so that you dont lose any paint while you are moving.

The appearance of this painting was marred by patches of mould growth. Photograph courtesy Artlab Australia, reproduced with permission of B. W. Johns

Do not touch the canvas or the paint surface directly. Wearing white, cotton gloves while handling paintings and frames is advisable, particularly

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when handling gilded frames. Gilt surfaces can be permanently marked by perspiration and oils from your skin. If your canvas painting does not have a backboard, check that the stretcher wedges are secured. They can do a lot of damage if they fall between the canvas and the stretcher. Always hold paintings at points where the frame is strong. Ornate frames are especially vulnerable to damage. Never grip them by any of the ornate areas of the frame, because they may not be very strong and could break. Never carry a painting by the top of its frame or stretcher. Carry it with one hand beneath and one hand at the side; or if it is small, one hand on each side. Carrying frames from the top member is dangerous and can cause the mitres to become loose and decorative elements to dislodge. If the work is unframed, it is better to move it using handling straps or a travelling frame. Both of these allow you to carry paintings without the need for you to touch the paint surface. If neither of these are available, then carry unframed, stretched paintings on the outer edges without touching either the front or back of the canvas. Dont allow your fingers to touch the paint surface.

Before putting a painting down on the floor, ensure that there are padded, wooden blocks or foam blocks in place where you wish to place it. These blocks provide a softer surface than the floor and keep paintings up off ground-level. When you put the painting down, do not set it down on one corner: always set it down along one complete edge. A large painting must be moved by two people regardless of the weight involved. Never attempt to move a large painting alone. When two people are working together, make sure you both agree on the way the painting is to be moved. If you are moving paintings on a trolley, it is wise to have two people to accompany the loaded trolley. With two people, you have one to hold the paintings in place while the other can open doors, etc. If one person tries to do everything at once, accidents are likely to happen. Trolleys should be padded to prevent damage to frames. If any damage should occur during the move, carefully collect and save any pieces, no matter how smalleven tiny paint flakesand document the damage. If you are hanging a painting, check that the hanging devices and the wall on which the painting is to be hung are secure. Paintings can be very badly damaged if they fall off the wall.

Handling straps attached to the back of a backing board. Photograph courtesy Artlab Australia

When you are framing or deframing a painting, make sure that you have a clean, padded surface on which to place both the frame and the painting.

Moving framed paintings with glazing

Glazing usually refers to the glass or Perspex sometimes used in framing systems for paintings. Glazed artworks should be carried with care: acrylic glazing such as Perspex is easily scratched; and glass can break if dropped or knocked.

Dont put your fingers around the stretcher bars, or between the stretcher and the canvas, because you could cause the canvas to bulge and the paint to crack and flake in that area. Remember to carry wrapped paintings with extra care, because you cannot see what you are touching.

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If you are transporting paintings glazed with glass, tape the front of the glass with masking tape. This will hold the pieces of the glass together, should it break, and lessen the risk of damage to the work. The tape should be on the glass only, and should not extend onto the frame because it can remove paint or other finishes when it is removed. For small frames, one strip of tape vertically in the centre of the glass, one horizontally and one strip of tape on each diagonal will be sufficient. Larger frames will need more. Fold the tape back on itself at one end of each strip, to provide yourself with a grip for easier removal of the tape. Remove the tape as soon as possible after the move. Pull the tape off at a very low angle, so that you dont make the glass flex too much. This could cause it to break. Remember, pull gently. It is better not to tape Perspex or Plexiglas as: the tape can be very difficult to remove; it can leave adhesive residues which cannot be cleaned away; and there is, after all, really no need to tape Perspex or Plexiglas because they wont break and shatter like glass.

Larger unstretched paintings may need to be rolled to be carried, and transported. If you are going to roll a painting it is very important that paintings are rolled the right waypainted side outand that they are properly interleaved and the roller properly padded. If the paint layer is on the inside when the painting is rolled, the paint will become compressed and will develop creases, which will remain in the painting after it has been unrolled. The roller should be as large as possible in diameterat least 200mm. For example, a very large acrylic painting which travelled to the USA in the South Australian Museums Dreamings exhibition was rolled on a roller more than one metre in diameter. The larger the painting, the larger the diameter of the roller should be. Rollers should be covered with a layer of paddingeither a polyethylene foam such as Plastazote, or Dacron wadding covered with clean white cotton fabricto compensate for any irregularities in the paintings thickness. It is best to roll the painting with an interleaving layer of Tyvek to prevent any transfer of pigment. The Tyvek should be larger in length and width than the painting. The rolled and wrapped painting should be tied firmly, but not tightly, with cotton tape in several places along the roll. Rollers can be specially made of lightweight materials, such as: Ribloc. Ask the manufacturer to make the roller with the ribs on the inside, if possible; and PVC pipe. A 300mm diameter pipe is a good size for most works.

Handling unstretched paintings

Not all paintings are stretched and framed. Many paintings are now sold and kept, unstretched. Because the canvas is not kept taut, these paintings are particularly vulnerable to damage caused by movement of the support. Unstretched paintings can be quite difficult to handle. If they are allowed to flop or move too much, the paint can begin to come away from the surface of the canvas; so it is very important that unstretched paintings are well supported. If the paintings are small enough to be moved flat, put a rigid support under them so that they can be handled easily without flopping and distorting. A sheet of Foam Cor or a strong mount board is suitable.

If you have to roll more than one painting on a roller, the paintings should be laid out flat and interleaved with Protecta Foam. Once this is done, the paintings should be rolled onto the roller all at the same time. Remember, all the paintings should be paint-side out.

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Framing paintings
Framing for protection
As already noted, frames are important protective devices. Good framing is as much common sense as anything else but certain principles should be kept in mind. The painting needs to be protected at the front and back if possible, from damage caused by: knocks and abrasions; dust and pollution; environmental fluctuations; and biological pests.

many contemporary artists have very definite ideas on the framing of their work; and Fiona MacDonald is an example of a contemporary Australian artist who uses the frame as part of the aesthetic of her work. To replace the frame would be akin to replacing part of the work.

Many frames are important aesthetic statements in their own right and may be valuable historic items. For example, framemakers Robin Hood and Isaac Whitehead were important Australian framemakers. An original frame by these framemakers is likely to be worth a substantial amount of money, certainly in the tens of thousands for a large, ornate frame in good original condition. In other instances the artist may have no interest in the frame at all. Works may be sold unframed or the artist may simply have a trade order with a framer. Decisions about framing and reframing, therefore, need to be made carefully and with a proper understanding of all the issues.

For this reason you should provide a backing board for your paintings, and consider glazing works. The painting needs to be protected from vibration as much as possible. For this reason the frame needs to hold the work firmly but allow some cushioning, so that if the painting is knocked the frame will take the force of the impact. The painting will need to be keyed out if the canvas becomes loose. Make sure that the painting does not fit too tightly in the frame.

Backing boards
Backing boards protect the painting by providing a physical barrier between the back of the painting and the external environment. It is obvious that one of the most important things you can do to protect a painting is to provide it with a snugly fitting backing board. A backing board will help to protect against: knocks; changes in temperature and humidity; the effects of atmospheric pollution; lodgement and build-up of dust; insect and mould attack.

Other considerationsaesthetics and history

When making any decisions about whether to retain, replace or repair an original frame, it is important to understand the history of the painting and its frame. Many artists consider the frame to be an important part of the presentation of their work. For some it is even an intrinsic element. Keep in mind that frame styles reflect the period of the artwork and/or the design of the individual artist. It is important to note that in some instances the frame will have been conceived as part of the original aesthetic of the work. For example: the 1889 9 x 5 exhibition is perhaps the most well known Australian example of artists making very specific decisions about their frames;

Various types of material can be used for backing boards. It is important to choose a material which is lightweight, but still strong enough to take knocks and to provide a physical barrier. Two materials which have been used widely in recent times are:

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Foam Cora composite consisting of outer layers of paper and an inner layer of polystyrene; and Corflutea synthetic corrugate.

pH-buffered, corrugated archival cardboard and other stable materials can also be used. The abovementioned materials are considered to be more chemically stable than timber or Masonite. If you retain a timber or Masonite backing, introduce a barrier between it and the painting. The barrier could be acid-free paper or board. Sometimes a work will have an original backing board with inscriptions and labels. If this is the case you will probably want to retain this information. If the labels are in poor condition, you should consult a conservator regarding their preservation. All labels and inscriptions provide potentially valuable information about the work. It is important to transcribe this information into any records you keep about the painting, including condition reports. Sometimes a backing board may hide information on the canvas.

Backing boards are screwed into the back of the frame and should fit well enough to make a dust seal. They provide more protection from impact if they are attached to the framebecause the frame, rather than the painting, will absorb most of the shock. It is important to note that backing boards should not be attached to the stretcher or strainer, because this weakens the structure and may necessitate putting holes in the canvas, which could lead to tearing.

Glazing is a generic term and usually refers to glass or Perspex. When glazing, you should be ensure that: there is sufficient space between the glass or Perspex and the surface of the work, so that the paint surface will not touch the glazing. Slips and spacers should be used to provide this space. Slips are visible and can be a decorative element in the frame. Spacers are not seen; Perspex is not used where there is any danger of the paint or image layers being affected by static electricity, for example, where there is flaking paint or where there is mixed medium such as in collage; and you do not use glazing when framing works which have been recently varnished, because the varnish will not be able to dry properly and may develop a white bloom.

In some instances a conservator will transcribe this information onto the backing board, noting that the original exists on the canvas. If the back of the work has a large amount of information or you want the information to be visible, a sheet of Perspex can be used as the backing board. In this way, the work is protected while still allowing the back of the work to be viewed.

There are a number of different types of glass on the market, including very expensive, water-clear bullet-proof glass. If you want to use this glass, you should check with your State art gallery to see if they have a local supplier, as this glass is not readily available.

Back of framed painting showing Corflute backing board screwed to the frame. Photograph courtesy Artlab Australia

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Putting the painting in the frame

Frame section (member)

Panel paintings should be held in place by two mirror plates placed at either side of the painting in line with the grain of the wood. This means that, if necessary, there is some freedom of movement of the wood. Remember that if a panel is unable to move it will crack.
Grain direction

Rebate Mirror plate Mirror plate

The following diagram shows how a stretched canvas painting should be fitted in a frame to provide a protected environment for the painting.
Frame Felted rebate Glazing Slip Paint and canvas Stepped profile Stretcher Felted mirror plate screwed to profile Backing board screwed to profile Frame

Hanging system screwed to profile

The back of the frame is built up with a profile section screwed to the frame. This increases the depth of the rebate, and provides the recessed space for the mirror clips and backing board. The slip is necessary to ensure that the paint surface does not contact the glass. The slip, rebate and mirror platesthat is all surfaces contacting the paintingneed to be felted with either a polyester felt or an inert cushioning material such as Cellair. If the painting fits loosely in the frame, spacers should be used to bulk out the rebate. Rag board, pH-buffered cardboard, balsa wood, cork and Foam Cor are suitable materials. These spacers should be glued to the rebate to prevent them slipping out of place and so to reduce the risk of damage to the painting. Felted mirror plates are used to hold the painting in the frame. These can be bent slightly to hold the painting and are screwed into the profile.

CAUTION: You will find that many works are held in the frame with nails. Hammering nails into place causes severe vibration which can lead to damage. Nails can also be difficult to remove without damaging the tacking edge and the stretcher. If the nails pass through the stretcher, then the painting cannot be keyed out. When reframing these paintings, remove the nails and do not replace them. Instead, use metal plates or mirror plates which can be screwed into place.

Hanging paintings securely

For safe hanging, paintings need to be secure in their frames and each frame needs to be securely hung from two points in the wall, with a hanging device attached to two points on the frame. Paintings of different size and weight may require different hanging systems, but if you think sensibly about the problems that may arise when you are hanging a particular work, most problems can be averted. There are two main principles to keep in mind when hanging a painting: the work should be properly supported for its weight; and there should be no stresses on any part of the hanging system or the painting.

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Some basic principles to keep in mind are: Use materials which will not rust. For example, you should use nickel-plated screws, brass or nickel-plated screw eyes or D-rings, and non-rusting multi-strand wire if you are using wire. If you use materials which rust, they will lose strength when they rust and your paintings will be at risk. Ensure that the wall into which the hanging system is secured is stable and structurally sound. If possible hang works from a well secured picture rail. If this is not available, make sure that you attach the plugs or secure hooks with toggle bolts into the studs in the wall structure. Ensure that stresses are evenly distributed across the work. If the work is large, use a shelf to take the weight. Do not hang the painting from one point, because this will create stress across the back of the frame, weakening corners and opening mitres. On an ornate frame this may result in loss of decoration. For a light- to medium-sized framed painting: the work should be hung from two separate points on the wall, with the hanging device attached to two points on the back of the frame; the hanging devices should be strong enough to take the weight of the work without becoming stressed or warped; and if you are using hanging wire, ensure that it is not crimped as this will be a weak point. There is also a range of security screws which can be used when a painting requires protection against theft.
Oz clips. Photograph courtesy of Artlab Australia

D-rings. Photograph courtesy of Artlab Australia

Mirror plates are another secure method of hanging paintings. OZ Clips are useful for large works with thin frames, particularly those which are kept in travelling frames.

For hanging a heavy work: use a shelf to evenly distribute the weight along the bottom of the work, and use the hanging devices to secure the work against the wall; and if necessary provide four or more hanging devices, such as mirror plates screwed to the frame and then into secure sections of the wall.

Ideal conditions for the storage and display of paintings

As we have seen, paintings are made up of a number of different materials. Each of these materials has its own particular sensitivity to the surrounding environmental conditions. However, unless you are able to identify the exact materials you will not know their exact sensitivity. To assist museums, galleries and libraries in looking after

Hanging devices
Hanging devices need to be strong and rust-proof. D-rings are preferable to screw eyes because they are less likely to snap and are not weakened by the screwing process.

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their collections, guidelines for the ideal storage and display environments have been developed. Ideally, paintings should be stored in an environment where: Temperature is constant and moderatein the range 1820C. If temperatures are generally outside this range in your area, try to ensure that fluctuations are not rapid and are kept to a minimum. Relative humidity is in the range 45-55%. This is important for paintings, because most of their components are moisture-sensitive and extremes of relative humidity can lead to physical damage. Fluctuations in relative humidity should be kept to a minimum and should not be rapid. Fluctuations in relative humidity can lead to severe distortion and to separation of the paint from underlying layers of the painting structure. Light is kept to the minimum necessary for the activity. If possible, store paintings in the dark. If light is not required for viewing while the works are being stored, then there is no need for them to be illuminated. This will reduce the risk of fading and discolouration of particularly sensitive components of the painting. For display it is necessary to have light; but the brightness of the light should be less than 250 lux. The UV content of the light should be no greater than 75w/lm and preferably below 30w/lm. Steps are taken to protect paintings from dust and pollutants. For more information For more information about temperature, relative humidity, light and UV, please see Damage and Decay.

General storage and display guidelines

Careful consideration should be given to the storage site and the storage system. In situations where you are able to achieve the ideal conditions, a good storage system in an appropriate storage site will give added protection to your collection. If the available facilities or the local climate make it difficult for you to achieve the ideal conditions, the selection of the storage site and the maintenance of a good storage system will become even more critical in preventing damage to the collections. Wherever possible the storage and display sites should be in a central area of the building, where they are buffered from the extremes of climatic fluctuations which can be experienced near external walls or in basements and attics. Basements should also be avoided because of the risk of flooding. The storage site should not contain any water, drain or steam pipes, particularly at ceiling level. If these pipes were to leak, extensive damage could result. The storage and display sites should be reasonably well ventilated. This will help reduce the risk of insect and mould infestation. Inspect and clean storage and display areas regularly. Thorough and regular cleaning and vigilance will also greatly assist in the control of insects and mould. Do not store paintings in sheds or directly on the floor. Cover stored paintings with a Tyvek cover. These are easy to make for individual works, using a domestic sewing machine. They will protect the paintings and their frames from dust and insects. These covers will also help to protect the works from fluctuations in environmental conditions. Always give paintings adequate support and try to reduce the physical stresses which can cause damage. If you have a number of paintings which are to be stored for considerable periods, consider designing a specific storage area so the paintings can be

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hung securely for storage. A heavy-gauge wire grid can be used for this purpose. If considering building such a system, consult a conservator for further details. If paintings are to be stored against walls, ensure that they are placed on padded blocks to take them off the floor level; and ensure that they are not near heavy traffic areas, because they could be damaged as people walk past them or if people drop things on them. Design your display lighting so that the heat produced by the lights does not affect the paintings. Heat associated with light can cause localised and differential environmental changes, and subsequent dimensional changes across the painting. Always avoid direct sunlight on your paintings.

paintings must be rolled painted side out, otherwise permanent damage which mars the appearance of the work can result; paintings should be properly interleaved and the roller properly padded; the roller should be as large as possible in diameterat least 200mm.

Rollers can be specially made of lightweight materials, such as: Ribloc, with the ribs on the inside; PVC pipe. A 300mm diameter pipe is a good size for most works; if you are using a cardboard tube to roll a painting, pad it out to as large a diameter as possible.

Storing unstretched paintings

Ideally, unstretched paintings should be stored flat. But many larger paintings are too large for flat storage in standard storage furniture. For the full protection of these larger paintings, rolled storage is recommended. It is important to note that for the flat storage of unstretched paintings, the paintings should be kept on wide, flat shelves or in large flat drawers such as plan chest drawers. The shelves or drawers should be larger than the paintings. This prevents distortion of the edges of the canvas. Paintings can be stacked one on top of another, but paintings can be quite heavy and the ones on the bottom have to carry the weight of those on top. So be sure to limit the number of paintings per stack. Stacked paintings should be interleaved with thin Protecta Foam sandwiched between acid-free tissue. If possible place the paintings in a large storage box, 100150mm deep. When rolling paintings for storage, it is important to note that:

Rollers should be covered with a layer of paddingeither polyethylene foam such as Plastazote or Dacron wadding covered with clean, white cotton fabric-to compensate for any irregularities in the paintings thickness. It is best to roll the painting with an interleaving layer of Tyvek, to prevent any transfer of pigment. The Tyvek should be larger in length and width than the painting. When rolled, the painting should be tied firmly, but not tightly, with cotton tape in several places along the roll. If more than one painting is to be rolled on a roller, the paintings should be laid out flat and interleaved with Protecta Foam, as for flat storage. Once this is done, the paintings should be rolled onto the roller, all at the same time. Remember, all the paintings should be paint side out.

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Summary of conditions for storage and display

Storage Temperature Relative Humidity Brightness of the Light 18C22C 4555%RH Dark storage preferred, but if light is present it should not be higher than 250 lux. Dark storage is preferred but if light is present, UV content should be and no greater than 75 W/lm and preferably below 30 W/lm. Display 18C22C 4555%RH Should not be higher than 250 lux.

UV Content of Light

No greater than 75 W/lm, preferably below 30W/lm.

Paintings in Australias climatic zones

The climatic zones outlined below are broad categories. Conditions may vary within these categories, depending on the state of repair of your building and whether the building is air conditioned or not. Remember that the variations in environmental condition across Australia are extreme. Therefore, you should be careful if you are transporting paintings from one climatic zone to anotherfor example, transporting works from a warm moist tropical environment to an air-conditioned gallery. If works are travelling, ensure there is enough time to acclimatise them on their arrival and return.

This climate is generally very dry, however in arid areas it is often very hot during the day and very cold at night. This wide fluctuation in temperature is matched by wide fluctuations in relative humidity, for example from 75%20% in a day. When caring for paintings in an arid climate it is important to note: Many of the materials that make up paintings will tend to give out the water they containthis can lead to components of the paintings becoming dry and brittle; The composite nature of paintings means that they are particularly susceptible to damage from fluctuations in temperature and relative humidity. As the different materials release moisture at different rates, warping, dimensional change and delamination of layers of the painting structure can result; Remember that even arid areas can have periods of higher relative humidityeven though the periods may only be very short. High humidities will cause swelling of some materials, and will increase the likelihood of insect and mould attack; Dust can be a major problem for paintings in an arid climate. It is important that paintings are glazed if dust is a problem; and For particularly sensitive, reactive works you may consider placing RH buffered fabric or silica gel cells into the framing structure. You will need to discuss this with a conservator. Note: If your collections of paintings have been kept in an arid environment for a considerable period and they are stabledo not try to alter the environment to meet the recommended ideal conditions. This could do more harm than good. The emphasis should be on long term stability.

124 Paintings

A temperature climate is considered a moderate climate, however, temperate climates tend to have a greater range of temperatures than tropical climates and may include extreme climatic variations. If you redecorating or designing storage and display areas, consider using materials that will help to buffer these areas against rapid fluctuations and extremes or relative humidity and temperature. This will help to reduce the risk of damage due to the fluctuations and extremes that occur in temperate environments. Remember that many of Australias main cities and major regional centre are in temperate regions. These areas tend to be heavily polluted and this should be taken into account. Salt laden winds and dust can be problems in many urban and rural areas in temperate zones. Note: If your collections of paintings have been kept in a temperate environment for a considerable period and they are stabledo not try to alter the environment to meet the recommended ideal conditions. This could do more harm than good. The emphasis should be on long term stability.

These climates are characterised by heavy rainfall, high humidity and high temperatures. When caring for paintings in tropical climates it is important to note that: insects and moulds thrive and reproduce readily; chemical deterioration reactions generally proceed faster at higher temperatures; materials that have been in a tropical environment for some time will have a high moisture content If they are suddenly moved into a drier environment they are likely to suffer shrinkage and warping of the support and stretcher; many of the materials which make up paintings are very reactive to changes in relative humidity. For example the animal skin glue used as the size will soften; a wooden stretcher may warp, etc.; and composite works such as collage will be particularly vulnerable. Controlling moisture is important in a tropical environment. Condensation may be a problem for glazed works and you may need to consider providing air holes in the backing board to allow adequate air flow. Cover these air holes with gauze to prevent insect entry. Ensure that your storage and display spaces have good air flow. For particularly moisture sensitive works you may consider placing RH buffered fabric or silica gel cells within the frame. You will need to discuss this with a conservator. Note: If your collections of paintings have been kept in a tropical environment for a considerable period and they are stabledo not try to alter the environment to meet the recommended ideal conditions. This could do more harm than good. The emphasis should be on long term stability.

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There are a number of problems which can arise when a work is keyed out. For this reason you should never attempt to key out a work unless you have been trained to do this properly by a conservator and you are aware of potential problems. Older canvases can be extremely brittle and may tear at the corners, or elsewhere along the rollover or tacking edge. Some paintings which have been distorted over a period of time may have a very strong plastic memory in their canvas or paint layers and keying them out may cause severe stress with cracking and even cleavage and flaking in the stressed areas. You should carefully consider the strength of the adhesion on mixed-media works such as collage, which may delaminate with movement of the canvas.

Sometimes stretchers warp and the temptation is to replace them. If, however, the canvas has taken on the plastic memory of the warped stretcher shape, then replacing the warped member with a straight one may cause more problems than it solves. If in doubt, consult a conservator.

Handling straps
When the work has no frame, handling straps made of synthetic webbing can be screwed onto the backs of frames or stretchers. These materials are available at marine or mountaineering suppliers. Handling straps provide added support for carrying when the frame is too weak or insubstantial to be used for carrying, or when there is no frame, or the work is particularly large and additional support is required.

Labels and inscriptions

The types of labels and inscriptions commonly found on backing boards include framemakers labels, chalk marks from auctioneers rooms, names and addresses, and other ancillary material. All this material should be noted on the accessioning documentation and the condition report as it can be critical when trying to determine provenance, examine authenticity or simply undertake historical studies.

What can go wrong with a stretcher and what you can do

As the purpose of the stretcher is to ensure that the canvas is kept taut, it is obvious that a stretcher which can no longer be keyed out is not performing its function properly. One of the most common reasons for a stretcher to fail is that the keys become damaged-with the protruding end breaking off and the remainder of the key becoming lodged in the keyhole. The removal of the remnants of the key is usually a job for a conservator, because it involves separating the two stretcher members. In some cases, a stretcher will not remain keyed out and keeps pulling back. If the reason for this is not clearsuch as material caught in the key holesyou should consult a conservator.

If you have a problem related to the care, framing or hanging of paintings contact a conservator. Conservators can offer advice and practical solutions.

For further reading

Clifford, T. 1983, The Historical Approach to the Display of Paintings, Journal of Museum Management and Curatorship, Vol. 1 (2), Butterworth Scientific Ltd, Guildford, UK, pp 93106. Editorial 1987, Journal of Museum Management and Curatorship, Frames and Framing in Museums, vol. 4, 1985, pp 115117; Vol 6, Butterworth Scientific Ltd, Guildford, UK, pp. 227-228.

126 Paintings

Hackney, Stephen 1990, Framing for Conservation at the Tate Gallery, The Conservator, Number 14, The United Kingdom Institute for Conservation, London, pp4452. Hasluck, Paul N. 1912, Mounting and Framing Pictures, Cassell and Company Ltd, London. Keck, Caroline K. 1965 reprinted 1980, A Handbook on the Care of Paintings, American Association for State and Local History, Nashville. McTaggart, Peter and Ann 1984, Practical Gilding, Mac & Me Ltd, Welwyn, UK. Payne, John and Chaloupka, Peter, 1986, Framing the 9 x 5s, Bulletin of the Society of the National Gallery of Victoria, The Society of The National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, pp 1112. Seager, Christopher; Hillary, Sarah L.; Weik, Sabine 1986, Art Care. The Care of Art and Museum Collections in New Zealand, Northern Regional Conservation Service, Auckland City Art Gallery, Auckland, N.Z. National Gallery of Art 1991, Art in Transit: Studies in the Transport of Paintings, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

Question 2.
Which of the following statements are true? a) Traditionally paintings were produced on stretched canvasses or wooden panels. There is no difference between a stretcher and a strainer. The varnish layer serves only to make the painting look glossy. A stretcher differs from a strainer in that the corners of a stretcher can be keyed out to tighten the canvas. Paintings can be produced on a range of supports.





Question 3.
Fluctuations in relative humidity can damage paintings by: a) producing dimensional changes in the support, which can lead to separation of the image layer from the support; producing dimensional changes in the support, which can lead to cracking of the paint and varnish layers; warping the stretcher, which in turn produces distortion of the canvas support; increasing the risk of mould attack when the relative humidity is high; or All of the above.


Self-evaluation quiz

Question 1.
The support layer of a painting is: a) the layer put on the back of the frame to support it; the framework that supports the canvas; the rigid board used to support unstretched paintings when they are being carried; or the layer which carries or supports the image or paint layer. d)


b) c)

Question 4.
Which of the following statements are false? When handling paintings you should:


a) b)

Be sure the painting and frame are secure and safe to move. Put your hand around the stretcher bar with your fingers between the stretcher and the canvas. This allows you to get a good grip.

Paintings 127


Check your route and make sure it is clear. Also make sure all doors are open and that there are people available to assist if you need them. Carry more than one painting at a time. Carry wrapped paintings with extra care, because you cannot see what you are touching.

Question 7.
Which of the following statements are true? a) Paintings should be hung securely because they can be badly damaged if they fall off the wall. Paintings should be hung from two points on the wall. The hanging devices should be strong enough to take the weight of the work without becoming stressed or warped. The hanging device should be attached to two points on the frame. If the work is exceptionally heavy, additional support can be given by resting the base of the frame on a shelf.

d) e)


Question 5.
A good protective framing system will: a) Protect a painting from knocks, because the frame will take the force of the impact. Include a backing board, to protect the back of the painting from impact damage and to significantly reduce the risk of insect attack and dust build-up. Be designed with protection, the history of the painting and aesthetics all taken into account. Have a slip or a spacer to keep the glazing away from he paint surface. All of the above. c)





Question 8.
What are the ideal conditions for storing and displaying paintings? a) 18-22C, 5570% RH, brightness of the light at 550 lux and the UV content of the light no greater than 75W/lm and preferably below 30W/lm. 20-30C, 4555% RH, brightness of the light at no more than 250 lux and the UV content of the light no greater than 200W/lm and preferably below 100W/lm. 18-22C, 4555% RH, brightness of the light at no more than 250 lux and the UV content of the light no greater than 75W/lm and preferably below 30W/lm. None of the above.



Question 6.
When putting a painting into its frame, you should: a) Use hammer and nails to fix the painting in place as this is difficult for people to undo and will ensure that it wont come loose. Ensure that all surfaces contacting the painting eg. the slip, the rebate, the fixings etc are cushioned with an inert cushioning material. Use spacers between the painting and the frame, if the painting fits loosely in the frame. Build up the back of the frame with a stepped profile section to accommodate the backing board, the painting and the glazing and slip, if the frame includes glazing. b)





Question 9.
When storing paintings, you should:


a) b)

Ensure that they have adequate support. Place them on padded blocks on the floor, in an area where people are likely to walk past them often so that they can check their condition regularly.

128 Paintings


Protect them from dust and fluctuations in relative humidity. Roll large, unstretched paintings if you do not have storage furniture which can accommodate them flat. Answer: c).

Question 8.


Question 9.
Answer: a), c) and d). b) is not correct. If paintings are to be stored against walls, you should ensure that they are placed on padded blocks to take them off the floor level, and ensure that they are not near heavy traffic areas, because they could be damaged as people walk past them or if people drop things on them.

Answers to self-evaluation quiz

Question 1.
Answer: d).

Question 2.
Answer: a), d) and e) are true. b) is false. There is a difference between a stretcher and a strainer. A stretcher can be keyed out to tighten the canvas, whereas a strainer cannot. c) is false. The varnish layer protects the paint layer and gives the paint colours a richer appearance.

Question 3.
Answer: e).

Question 4.
Answer: b) and d) are false.

Question 5.
Answer: e).

Question 6.
Answer: b), c) and d) are correct. a) is incorrect. Nails should not be used to fix paintings into a frame, because hammering them in causes vibration which could lead to considerable damage.

Question 7.
Answer: a), b), c), d) and e) are all true.

Paintings 129


Given the well established catalogue of drawbacks it is perhaps surprising that more attention has not been paid to developing new supports. One of the reasons for this is that the conservators have not really played a very prominent role in the development of new materials for artists. This is short sighted. We have tended to see ourselves as a group who acts on old works after the event of creation in order to try and slow down their inevitable deterioration. But we should also be prepared to extend our role so that we can try to advise living artists as to the best materials before they commence work. Such an approach is probably essential if the sheer volume of art created today is to have much chance of survival. Of course it may be objected that many artists do not care whether their work survives. If that is so then they have the right to make that choice. The problem at the moment is that artists are not able to obtain readily information as to the durability of their materials. Such information is not widely enough available in art schools or in literature likely to be consulted by artists. Linen and cotton have continued to be preferred by artists seeking to paint on stretched fabrics. Given the materials previously available, linen in particular has always been a sensible choice, yet today from the viewpoints of their chemical stability and mechanical properties they are very far from ideal materials. It is worth considering some of their drawbacks in more detail since this will help to serve as one reference point in assessing new materials. Strength loss is the most evident problem. Whilst linen and cotton begin their life with much greater strength than is necessary for a painting support, they retain it only for a short period. The cellulose chains of which they are composed suffer degradation leading to chain scission under the inuence of light, moisture and environmental pollutants. The strength loss is rapid and extensive. Tests conducted on samples naturally aged in the Tate Gallery London revealed that in only 24 years linen canvas samples had declined to practically 1/3 of their original strength. Hardly surprising then that so few canvas paintings survive more than a couple of hundred years without some form of treatment to provide additional structural support. Unlined paintings of more than 300 years of age are so rare as to be almost collectors items. Some of this extensive treatment must of course be attributed to lining having become a standard restoration treatment, though it should be remembered that this is not without a certain basis in the condition of the paintings themselves. It is evident that a large number of 20th century paintings have already been lined after perhaps only 50 years of existence. Such treatments are themselves hazardous operations and tend to impose signicant changes on the appearance and handling properties of the painting especially if considered as a whole object rather than simply the visual image. Cotton is even less satisfactory than linen. The bres are 2 to 3 times weaker than equivalent linen bres and consequently though their rate of deterioration due to light is slower than that of linen, low strength values will quickly be reached. These factors are sure to cause immense problems for conservators fty years from now entrusted with the care of the large paintings on cotton which are so common in our galleries today. Just as problematical given the optical role that exposed canvas plays in many modern paintings are the colour changes that accompany thechemical degradation. Signicant darkening and yellowing of the surface take place very rapidly. The 24 year old linen samples from the Tate Gallery showed a decrease in reectance of 10% at the red end of the spectrum and 50% at the blue end of the spectrum. Again cotton is known to change colour more rapidly than linen and since its natural cream white colour has often been utilised by artists such a change will completely alter the tonal relationships within the painting. The original intention of an artist such as Morris Louis or Helen Frankenthaler will be irretrievably lost. But more subtle problems also exist. Linen and cotton are moisture sensitive supports. The moisture regain at 65% HF of linen and cotton is taken as 12% and 8.5% respectively. They swell and shrink differentially from other layers in the painting and their mechanical properties also change. This process in the painting as a whole can lead to powerful shear and tensile stresses being set up and to cracking and delamination. Cotton can imbibe as much as 40% moisture at 100% RH and appears to respond more rapidly to moisture changes. It has been observed that large paintings on cotton are particularly prone to uctuations between very slack and very taut states. This afnity for moisture also leads to soiling of the cotton and linen supports MECHANICAL PROPERTIES Woven fabrics in general and cotton and linen in particular do not have ideal mechanical properties when considered for use as a painting support. What is required is a material which becomes taut under the minimum of applied strain, which does not subsequently relax and which has the same properties in all directions. This requires a material of high initial Youngs Modulus (and low elongation) resistant to stress relaxation and creep and exhibiting isotropic behaviour. Cotton and linen fail on all these counts when considered in the woven form. They require considerable amounts of strain (from the point of view of the paint ground and size layers) to achieve a taut state. What is more they do not follow a classical Hookean stress/strain extension curve, but

stretch rst by the removal of the crimp in the weave. This initial low modulus extension is hardly reversible and hence rapid stress relaxation follows. So if canvas is to remain taut for any length of time it must be pre-stretched before it is painted on. This drawback exists depending on weave type to a greater or lesser degree with all woven fabrics including glass fabrics. However even once the decrimping region is passed the cotton or linen canvas will not retain its taut state over a prolonged period of time. This is because under constant applied strain they suffer from stress relaxation. So a canvas which was initially tightly stretched can become slack over a number of years. To counter this effect since the eighteenth century stretchers have been made with wedges enabling them to be regularly enlarged to re-tighten slackened supports. Unfortunately doing this causes the renewed application of very high stresses at the turned over edges of the painting and the corners. Since the linen or cotton will by this time have also declined in strength the frequent result is fracture of the canvas starting usually at the top edge and corners. On large paintings such problems are further magnied by the weight of canvas involved. This can be so great that it causes the canvas near the top of the painting to gradually extend (creep) under the constant applied load of the canvas lower down. Creep which has been studied by Tassinari in relation to hemp canvas is the other side of the coin of stress relaxation and can lead to bulging along the lower edge of paintings. Again the treatment is often wedging out which brings the eventual failure at the edges one step nearer. Whilst stress relaxation, creep and Youngs Modulus can all be improved upon by the judicious choice of materials the anisotropic nature of canvas stems mostly from its woven character. Woven materials tend to be highly anisotropic. Their two stiffest directions are the weft and warp but it is common for the weft in the initial phases of stretching to be two or three times stiffer than the warp. Appropriate choice of weave can minimise this difference, but the problem will still exist. It is no doubt more serious in cotton and linen which respond to moisture and thus must also transmit anisotropic strains to the paint and ground layers. This leads us to the fact that canvas paintings are secured on stretchers. The stretcher serves to restrain the painting from contracting back to its unstressed size while it remains elastically deformed. Complex strain patterns are generated throughout the layers of the painting which tend towards maxima at the edges and corners and reduce and become more uniform in the central zone. Further shrinkage of the painting whether caused by desiccation of a size layer or by moisture content in the canvas will superimpose higher stresses onto the pattern imposed by the restraint of the stretcher, cracks and delamination can then result.

Cotton and linen interact with this fundamental problem of restraint on a stretcher in three ways. First because they are not high Modulus materials in the woven state stretching them to a taut state requires relatively large applied strains. There is thus in the painting composite always a danger that large strains may need to be imposed on the paint and ground layers in order to tighten the whole structure. This will obviously be inuenced by factors such as the thickness and degree of cracking of the paint and ground layers. Second cotton and linen respond to moisture changes, they thus contribute to either very dramatic additional stresses such as when they become extremely moist or else much more gradual but repetitive stress changes as the humidity uctuates. These cyclical changes may well lead to failure in the paint layer due to fatigue mechanisms, but this requires further investigation. Thirdly their creep and stress relaxation behaviour outlined above mean that the stretching process is not a once for all procedure, but one which of necessity if the painting is to be kept taut must be repeated frequently in the life of the painting. These points emphasise that it would be short sighted to consider the fabric support as the only problem. Evidently the whole stretching process must be called into question and the design of stretchers more carefully considered. In recent years for instance there have merged spring tensioned stretchers which rely on mechanical systems to expand and contract the overall dimensions. These do at least allow the possibility of some retraction, i.e. reduction in restraint which may be a denite advantage. On the other hand they tend to maintain high tension states and do not change the nature of the basic imposed stress system. It is perhaps indicative of a growing concern amongst artists for their materials that Richard Hamilton has designed, patented and had manufactured a number of mechanical stretchers for his own use. Amongst other causes of problems Marion Mecklenberg has pointed out that it would appear that one of the most active layers in the painting composite appears to be the glue size layer. He suggests that desiccation can lead to very large stresses in the size lm which can lead to fracture in the paint and ground layers. This would strongly imply that a new artists canvas should avoid the need for moisture responsive size layers. Cotton and linen are traditionally associated with the use of size. Not only are they frequently sized by the artist, but they are often sized at least on the warp threads during weaving. Two reasons are commonly cited for the sizing of canvas by artists. One is that it is necessary to prevent cellulosic materials from coming into contact with oil paint. This need is of course specic to cotton and linen fabric although it is worth noting that there is very little

evidence available to quantify the effects of such contact. The other is that the ground layer needs to be prevented from penetrating through to the back of the canvas. This problem would continue to exist with modern alternative fabrics and emphasises that not only do we need to nd a material which does not require sizing with animal glue, but that this must be related to suggestions as to the most suitable types of ground. In this area synthetic materials particularly acrylics are already being widely used. Finally it is worth noting that cotton and linen are both susceptible to mould growth and deteriorate even more rapidly if they have the misfortune to be in very damp conditions. Several artists have already expressed specic concern about this problem particularly with paintings in acrylic media on cotton duck. The need exists then for an investigation into fabric supports. It is necessary at the start to list some of the desired parameters of a suitable fabric:1 excellent durability, resistance to acidic pollutants and light. 2 high stiffness (Youngs Modulus), low extensibility. 3 good elastic recovery. 4 negligible hygroscopicity (moisture pick up). 5 resistances to creep and stress relaxation. 6 good adhesion to chosen grounds. 7 lack of need for sizing. 8 acceptability to artists (texture, handling, appearance, etc). 9 low cost, ready availability, large sizes. Acrylic bres tend to have lower tenacities than do ax and cotton as well as quite high elongations and this latter is undoubtedly the major drawback. It makes them highly exible and also pleasant to handle, hence their use in clothing. Their chemical stability is excellent. For instance Orlon acrylic type 42 will withstand 1000 hours in 60% concentrated sulphuric acid; by comparison cotton degrades in less than 10 hours under the same conditions. Light resistance is also extremely good; acrylics tend to have the best resistance to ultraviolet radiation in daylight. These properties of exibility and stability have resulted in acrylics nding use as media, varnish and adhesives in the painting and conservation eld. Certainly their compatibility with an acrylic support would be outstanding. On the other hand the ideal combination in a painting would be a stiff dimensionally stable support with a permanently exible ground and paint layer and acrylics may well not provide this support stiffness. They do also absorb some moisture having regain values of 1-2.5% but this is fairly small.

Polyester fabrics would appear to be the most satisfactory synthetics which are readily available. The bres have high tenacity and relatively low elongation at break, they are thus fairly stiff. Elastic recovery though worse than nylon is better than polypropylene. They will also withstand 3% strain without any permanent set occurring. Moisture absorption is extremely low, typically around 0.4% at 65% RH and the bres will imbibe only 2% moisture when maintained at 100% RH. At low extensions the bres resist creep and they are characterised by a fairly high initial modulus of 100-130 gm/denier. Polyesters have good abrasion resistance, and are absolutely resistant to mildew and have good resistance to degradation by sunlight though this degradation is very signicantly reduced if the ultraviolet component is excluded by glass. Indeed under this type of exposure certain polyesters can be superior to acrylics. The material is available in a wide range of forms, including spun forms which have uffy canvas like appearance, it is also relatively cheap. In developing new materials for the artist to use it would therefore seem at present best to focus attention primarily upon the polyesters and acrylics.

(ARTISTS CANVASES: THEIR HISTORY AND FUTURE) C Villers, Courtauld Institute of Art, London G Hedley, Courtauld Institute of Art, London V Mehra, Central Research Laboratory, Amsterdam July 1980 Ottawa Symposium on Conservation of Contemporary Art National Gallery Canada) July 1980

Aluminum Honeycomb Supports: Their Fabrication and Use in Painting Conservation Marion F. Mecklenburg; Judith E. Webster Studies in Conservation, Vol. 22, No. 4. (Nov., 1977), pp. 177-189.
Stable URL: Studies in Conservation is currently published by International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.

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Studies in Conservation, 22 ( 1 977), 177-1 89


M A R I O N F. M E C K L E N B U R G and J U D I T H E . WEBSTER
Abstract-The fabrication and use of aluminum honeycomb core solid support panels for paintings on fabric are described, using standard materials and laboratory equipment. Techniques of mounting paintings to such all-aluminum solid supports employing the vacuum hot table and both wax/resin and thermoplastic adhesives are discussed. Alternative methods of panel fabrication and technical information on current materials are noted.




For some time it has been apparent that the traditional method of consolidation, or lining, of a painting on fabric by bonding it to an auxiliary fabric support does not provide a satisfactory result in every case. It has been observed that torn paintings with marked distortion at the periphery of the damage, when lined on fabric, have an unfortunate tendency to revert to the original distortion, forcing the new fabric support out of plane and into conformation. In the case of oversize paintings, the combined weight of the original tensioned fabric, ground and design layers is an inherent weakness leading to eventual bond failure and cleavage of the ground and paint layers. The presumption is that this is due to compression when humidity oscillations have deprived the fabric support of its ability to maintain the structure in plane. The traditional lining, employing additional fabric and adhesive, adds to the weight and compounds the problem. In addition to problems presented by physical deterioration, of increasing concern t o conservators are problems arising from the transportation and exhibition of paintings. Mr George Stout has discussed these problems specifically in regard to vandalism, rapid vibration or oscillation of fabric supports during shipping, and environmental changes in humidity and temperature during such moves [I]. Many painting conservators today believe that a solid support provides a reasonable solution to these specific consolidation problems. Two recent papers have described the construction of rigid panels of end-grain balsa wood core and birch veneer plywood skins as supports for paintings with severe distortion [2, 31. As early as 1957, Stefan Slabczynski, then Chief Restorer at the Tate Gallery, London, built a panel with a kraft paper honeycomb core and masonite skins as a support for a painting by William Blake with severe cleavage problems. Honeycomb panels of this type are currently manufactured by Lebrun of New York. In 1971 Alexander Dunluce, Mr Slabczynski's successor, mounted a large painting by R. Delaunay on a honeycomb panel using paper core with fiberglas sheet and PVA as an adhesive. Subsequently he marouflaged a painting by Picasso to a panel constructed of paper core, 2 mm fiberglas sheets with a wax/resin adhesive and mulberry tissue interleave. Experimentation with solid support systems is continuing [4, 51. This early use of honeycomb panels constructed at the Tate was influential to our undertaking similar experiments. If, then, a solid support can provide a solution to specific problems encountered in consolidation, what performance standards should be required? Certainly, the following: 1 - Long term durability and stability. A panel must remain stable in most environments


Marion F. Mecklenburg and Judith E. Webster

and be chemically inert. 2 - Sufficient rigidity to perform the task required. 3 - Resistance to surface deformation. 4 - Ease of construction, including the potential for the fabrication of large panels. 5 - Light weight. 6 - Ease in use. A panel must be compatible with currently accepted adhesives and lining procedures, and meet requirements for reversibility. It is the choice of materials which ultimately governs panel behavior in a given environment. There are many possible structural combinations. Major differences occur in the materials used for fabrication, as is evidenced by the papers presented over the last few years describing various methods. A painting's environment, including such factors as relative humidity, temperature, and airborne contaminants, is a primary concern in the preservation of paintings. Airborne contaminants can be filtered and relatively stable temperatures can be achieved. Relative humidity, however, is difficult to stabilize. A material impervious to moisture variation, yet stable enough through a controlled range of temperature variation, is essential. Aluminum fulfills these requirements and, unlike natural materials, has known uniform physical properties which permit the analytic determination of structures. An all-aluminum structure has performance characteristics that can be predicted. In the spring of 1974 the Washington Conservation Studio undertook the restoration of a major painting owned by the US National Park Service. The painting, The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone by Thomas Moran, measures 144 x 84 in. Upon examination, it was evident that there was extensive compression cleavage due to the relatively thick ground and design layers, the failure of the upper tacking edge of the support fabric, and the considerable weight of the combined fabric and design layer. The pattern of this compression cleavage has since been observed with some frequency on other very large oil paintings on canvas. If the painting were to be consolidated and relined using conventional adhesives and new fabric support, only a temporary stay of deterioration would be achieved. The tension required to maintain a painting of this scale in plane would be enormous, requiring great fabric strength and heavy stretcher construction. The added weight would inevitably lead to the eventual repetition of the failure. If, however, a solid support were used, no tension to either the support fabric, ground, or design layer would be required. The bonding adhesive need only be adequate to hold the painting in contact with the panel surface while the panel would provide all necessary structural integrity and in-plane continuity. A bonded aluminum honeycomb core panel offered a possible solution. In consultation with Mr Ned Miller of the Hexcel Corporation, structural performance requirements were defined and the fabricated results were as follows:* 1 - Dimensions 144 x 84 in., with deflection under panel weight no more than 2 in. out of plane in long direction. 2 - 15 mil skins 5052 aluminum alloy. 3 - 8 in thick aluminum perforated cell. 4 - Narmco adhesive. 5 - Surround adhesive Hexcel HP 326. 6 - $ in birch edge finish. 7 - Weight 77 lb. The final fabrication of the panel was performed by Hexcel. It is not the purpose of the paper to discuss the restoration of the Thomas Moran painting, but rather to illustrate that the problems presented in its consolidation indicated the need
*Since these panels were constructed from commercially available materials, the standard US (non-metric) measurements have been retained throughout.

Studies in Conservation,22 (1977), 177-1 89

Aluminum honeycomb supports: their fabrication and use in painting conservation


for a specific solution. The panel was totally successful-strong, lightweight, and easy to manipulate during the lining process. The all-aluminum structure allowed rapid heat transfer from the hot table to the top of the panel, permitting the painting to be lined 'face up' and eliminating the need for any application of additional heat to the surface of the painting. In effect, the lining technique was identical with the normal 'face up' procedure. While the panel for the Moran was fabricated specifically for that painting by a commercial firm with large industrial capacity, the question still remained whether a conservator could build and use such panels in his or her own studio in a reasonable time and at a reasonable cost. The design criteria and methods for fabrication and use developed by the Washington Conservation Studio outlined below indicate that the basic industrial process can be duplicated in a modern conservation laboratory. 2.

The physical properties of aluminum are well defined and readily allow the determination of the structure necessary to support a particular work of art. In theory, support panels of a desired stiffness for small paintings would be quite thin. In practice, however, it was felt that a standard design suitable for use with a wide range of painting sizes would be more practical, as it would limit the number of materials to be stocked and simplify assembly. The design chosen is, in fact, stronger than necessary for panels under 8 ft in the larger dimension; it would suffice for panels up to 16 ft long. Although a reasonably lightweight panel was desirable, weight was not a prime consideration--ease of construction and handling were more important. The material components of the design ultimately chosen are as follows: 1 - Aluminum core-Hexcel ACG, & in cell, & in thick, perforated. 2 - Aluminum core-Hexcel ACG, & in cell, 3 in thick, perforated (for internal splices). 3 - Aluminum skin-Reynolds Aluminum 25 mi1 (0.025 in) sheet (3003 H 14 alloy). 4 - Adhesive-Hexcelite HP 326 (two part epoxy). 5 - Wood edging strips milled to & in, straight grained. 6 - Assembled weight-1.2 lb/ft2. Considering panel thickness first, the materials specified above will fabricate to approximately Q in. This dimension is sufficient to allow the tackover edges of the original support fabric to be adhered to the panel edges. As the aluminum honeycomb core is assembled with a surround of wood stripping which is finished flush with the top and bottom skins of the panel, these edges can readily receive staples or screws if desired. In addition, the dimension chosen ( Q in) lends itself to the splicing technique used to build panels over 4 ft in the shorter dimension. The aluminum skins could have been 20 mil instead of 25 mil. However, when handling sheets of aluminum this thin, it is easy to distort the surface and cause a dent. Twenty-five mil aluminum is somewhat easier to handle and proportionately more resistant to deformation. The core (ACG & in cell) is used for various reasons. First, the small cell size provides a sufficient bonding area to withstand certain thermal transitions during use on the hot table where painting attachment occurs. Second, the cell density provides a more continuous platform for the aluminum skin and eliminates the possibility of a skin surface texture caused by the cell. Third, the aluminum density of the core provides uniform heat transference from the hot table to the painting during the attachment process. Fourth, the core cuts easily, since there is an inherent stiffness, and provides the opportunity to use small pieces in the construction of the panel, thereby eliminating waste. The adhesive, HP 326, is a thixotropic epoxy paste chosen for its strength and ease of manipulation. It takes heat well and is able to bond materials of different physical properStudies in Conservation, 22 (1977), 177-1 89


Marion F. Mecklenburg and Judith E. Webster

ties. This is important as panels are normally finished with wood edging strips. It is evident that lighter weight material could be used with success, e.g. the original panel for the Moran. However, more care would be needed in the storage and handling of the materials as well as in the fabrication of the panel. Since painting size varies so greatly, it seemed wise to establish a standard design for panel construction employing materials and methods acceptable to the average conservation laboratory. 3.

3.1. Panels Having at Least One Dimension Under 48 in Step 1. Cutting the Aluminum Skins Four dimensions are required: height, width, and the two diagonals. The diagonal measurements should always be taken since it is so often found that paintings are out of square. Panels can easily be constructed to fit the painting exactly and it makes little sense to do otherwise. The dimensions are scribed on the aluminum sheet using a sharp steel point. A sharp point is necessary; otherwise, a 'strain-hardening' occurs in the aluminum after the first pass, making further scoring quite difficult. Three small indentations are made along a cutting edge and visually aligned to ensure that the measurements scribed are accurate. The actual cutting of the aluminum sheet is done as if one were cutting glass. A fairly deep trough is scribed by making several passes with the steel point. The sheet is then folded over a straight table edge with a fairly brisk motion, this right angle is continued to 180". reversed, and usually breaks on the second fold. This method of cutting does not distort the edges and is preferable to using shears or saws. Step 2. Preparation of Wood Edging Redwood edging is used as it is fairly stable and easily worked. Strips &in wide are pre-cut from a standard 1 x 6 in redwood board. It is important that the &in depth of the strip be as accurate as possible because the strips must be flush with the core to eliminate any possibility of distortion of the panel surface. The surround of wood edging is a fraction larger than the aluminum skins because it is desirable to provide an excess which will be trimmed away when finishing the panel edges. While the corners can be mitred, it is not necessary. The corners are temporarily secured with brads set so that they can easily be removed later. The frame of wood strips is then taped to one of the aluminum skins and provides the guide for cutting and fitting the core. Step 3. Fitting the Core The aluminum core is worked easily if some care is used. Place a sheet of core over the assembly of wood frame and single aluminum skin, mark the inside edge of the wood strips on the core with masking tape allowing an excess of in all around. Place the core on a flat surface and, using a straight edge, cut the core with a sharp knife (a serrated kitchen knife works well), making several passes with moderate pressure. The core should now be about B t in larger than the inside dimensions of the wood edging. Gently pass your finger over the edges of the core and press the excess to the proper dimension so that the core fits snugly inside the wood frame. It is not necessary that the core be a single, continuous piece. It can be several pieces, but there should be no gaps between core pieces larger than the cell dimension of t in.

Step 4. Bonding the Panel Hexcelite HP 326 is a two-part thixotropic epoxy adhesive which has a four-hour pot life
Studies in Conservation, 22 (1 977), 177-1 89

Aluminum honeycomb supports: their fabrication and use in painting conservation


at room temperature. The long pot life allows the adhesive to be mixed after cutting the pieces of the panel and still leave ample time for assembly. Excess mixed adhesive may be stored in a refrigerator for even longer life. Usually aluminum sheets are provided with a thin coating of oil to preserve the surface finish. As this oil film can reduce bonding strength, it must be removed by washing with a solution of water and 'sudsy ammonia' or detergent, and dried. The panel skin is then evenly coated with the pre-mixed adhesive. A layer 3-5 mils thick can be evenly applied using pieces of scrap cardboard as spreaders, making sure that there is sufficient adhesive around the edges to bond the wood strips. Lay the coated sheet on top of the honeycomb panel assembly, making sure that any tape used to hold the wood strips to the bottom skin is not overlapping a surface to be bonded. It is probable that while coating a skin, some adhesive will migrate to the other side; this can be easily removed with the same water and detergent solution used previously to clean the protective oil from the skin. Care should be taken to avoid wetting the wood. Once cleaned, turn the entire panel over on to a piece of Mylar or glassine paper taped flat to a vacuum hot table. The side inverted on to the Mylar will be the side to which the painting will be bonded, so that slight imperfections on the top side are not significant. Care should be taken, of course, to keep any imperfections to a minimum. Keep all surfaces on the hot table clean and free of adhesive; it is easily washed off prior to setting, but difficult to remove afterward. Remove the tape and other aluminum skin and apply the adhesive as before. Replace the second coated skin of the panel assembly and align both skins. The completed lay-up should appear as illustrated (Fig. 1). Step 5. Curing the Adhesive Since the hot table is capable of applying both heat and pressure, it is the logical tool to use for fabrication of the panel. The most prevalent cause of panel failure during fabrication is the application of insufficient or uneven pressure. To ensure even pressure, cover the entire panel with a piece of cloth. This will keep the diaphram from sealing to the aluminum prematurely or unevenly, preventing the complete evacuation of air. (It is essential that perforated honeycomb core also be used to allow for complete evacuation.) It is not necessary to use maximum pressure, although it is desirable to maintain to at least 20 in Hg of vacuum (approximately 9 lbjin2). Allow the panel to maintain a heat of 150" F for a minimum of

minum skin

Wood finish

Glassine or Mylar

~ otable t surface

FIG.1 Cross section of aluminum skin/aluminum honeycomb core solid support panel.
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Marion F. Mecklenburg and Judith E. Webster

1 hour, then cool gradually under vacuum to room temperature.

Step 6. Edge Finishing When the panel is cool, remove it from the hot table and remove all paper and/or Mylar. The fabric cover will probably stick at the edges where the adhesive flowed. If glassine or Mylar is used it will simply pull away. Any still attached adhesive will come away with water. The wood edges are finished flush with the aluminum skins, first with a rasp, then with a finer wood file and emery paper. The sharp edges of the aluminum skins may be rounded at the same time. Work along the direction of the panel and not across it to avoid possible delamination of the skins from the wood. Inspect carefully the working side of the panel. Any slight imperfections may be filled with a commercial aluminum filling material and then sanded flush with the surface with a fine grade of wet sandpaper. 3.2. Panels Having the Smaller Dimension Over 48 in The structural properties developed in a panel constructed of honeycomb core between two skins, or continua, provide a strong, lightweight, rigid support. However, as aluminum sheets have a maximum width of 48 in, an adjustment has been made in order to allow fabrication of panels over 48 in in their smaller dimension. It was stated previously that the core could be installed in several pieces rather than in a single continuous sheet; this cannot be said for the skins without certain other adjustments. The stiffness of a panel depends on the resistance of the skins to in-plane compression or tension stress. Skins which are butt oined may develop resistance to compression under certain circumstances, but cannot resist tension. The core, by separating the skins, provides resistance to shear stress, and if continuous skins are used contributes to the development of panel stiffness. The prime consideration of a panel is not shear stress but bending (or flexural) stress. As the core itself has little resistance to bending, some means of transfer of tensile and compressive stress is necessary when using a multiple piece skin. This can be accomplished by the inclusion of an internal box splice. The construction of such a spliced panel is as follows. Step 1. Cutting and Fitting Cut the aluminum skins as previously described, butting two pieces to achieve the desired size. Attach the frame of wood edging strips with tape as before. Cut two strips of aluminum sheet the length of the seam and about 5 in wide. Cut a piece of core having the thickness of in rather than & in, the same dimensions as the 5 in aluminum strips, and a second 5 in skin strip. These pieces will assemble to a thickness just under in. Center the splice assembly over the skin seam and tape in place. Fill the remaining panel space with $in core.

FIG.2 Aluminum skin and wood surround-

pieced before splice.

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Aluminum honeycomb supports: their fabrication and use in painting conservation


Measure and cut the second set of skin pieces. The seams of both sides of the panel must be located over the centre of the box splice (Figs. 2-5). Step 2. Bonding First remove the box splice from the lay-up and coat the two 5 in aluminum strips with adhesive and join them to the piece of in core. Place this assembled box splice back in place. The extra layer of adhesive used in constructing the box splice will compensate for the minor difference between the -&in core and the internal splice box assembly. All other steps are the same as before except that the skins will be placed in two pieces. Inverting the assembly on to the prepared surface of the hot table is precarious and will require more than one pair of hands. Coat the remaining two pieces of skin and position, making sure that

FIG.5 Honeycomb core with internal bridge lay-up complete.

Studies in Conservation, 22 (1977), 177-189

Marion F. Mecklenburg and Judith E. Webster


5 in splice strip


Hot table

FIG.6 Cross section of aluminum skin/aluminum honeycomb core panel with box splice.

alignment is good and that no tape remains on surfaces to be bonded. The completed lay-up should appear as illustrated in Figure 6. Note that a piece of 3M 'Magic Tape' has been placed above the seam on the top of the panel; this prevents a flow of adhesive during the cure of the panel. No tape is placed on the bottom seam, as this is the working side and the flow of adhesive through the joint will fill the gap and provide an excellent continuous surface. Again, cover the entire panel with cloth to provide even evacuation of air. The cure time should be slightly longer due to the additional density of the assembly. Normally an additional 15 minutes is required. A slight wet sanding with wet-dry silicon carbide paper, as described above, is recommended along the working side seam line to ensure a perfectly flat surface. 3.3. ShapedPanels All paintings are not rectilinear. Ovals and roundels are not uncommon and irregularly shaped canvases are encountered with increasing frequency among contemporary paintings. Panels of a complex geometry present problems in the alignment of their various components during fabrication and finishing. It is necessary to establish points which will provide an accurate reference at any given time during fabrication. The procedure used in this lab is as follows : Step 1. Cutting a Template An accurate template is made of the shape of the desired panel, on Mylar with a felt-tip pen, and cut out along the traced line (Fig. 7). Step 2. Cutting the Wood Surround The template is transferred to a sheet of high grade (A-B) interior plywood of the same thickness as the honeycomb core to be used. Plywood is used in preference to redwood strips for the surround of a shaped panel because complex curves and/or angles may be cut easily from one piece. When the shape has been accurately drawn on the plywood, the in inside, and parallel template is removed and a second line is drawn on the plywood $4
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Aluminum honeycomb supports: their fabvicatiott and use in painting conservation

Step 1 Mylar template

Steps 2.3 Template traced on plywood and opening to receive core cut out. Guide pins located.

Step 4 Completed lay-up with aluminum skins and honeycomb core positioned in plywood surround. Guide pins still in place.

Step 5 Mylar template relocated after bonding to determine 'finish cut' line.


Construction of a panel with complex geometry

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Marion F. Mecklenburg and Judith E. Webster

to, the first or 'finish cut' line. Using a sabre saw, the wood is cut along this inside line. The resulting opening will eventually receive and contain the honeycomb core. Excess wood outside the 'finish cut' line is cut away-approximating the final geometry using straight lines and simple angles and going no closer than 4 in to the final 'finish cut' line (Fig. 7). Step 3. Positioning the Template The template is replaced on the wood and taped securely. Four brads are set into the edge of the plywood and two strings, crossing the template in different dirzctions, are tied to each pair of brads. Where the strings cross the template, lines are drawn on the Mylar. These lines will serve to relocate the template accurately on the bonded panel allowing the 'finish cut' lines to be redrawn on the aluminum skin. Do not remove brads. Step 4. Preparing the Panel Cut the aluminum skins to conform to the temporary outside shape of the plywood. Fill the void in the plywood surround with honeycomb core and bond the panel as described in Section 3.1. above (Figs. 7, 8). Step 5. Finishing the Panel The 'finish cut' line, previously drawn on the plywood, will now be hidden by the aluminum skins and must be relocated on the surface of the bonded panel before final cutting and finishing. Replace the template on the panel and attach string to the brads as before. Adjust the position of the template so that the previously marked string lines are again aligned with the strings. Trace the template shape on to the aluminum skin carefully as this is the 'finish cut' line. A sabre saw with a fine tooth blade will cut cleanly through the bonded aluminum and plywood layers to provide the final panel shape (Figs. 7, 9 and 10). 4.

A bonded aluminum honeycomb panel, in effect, acts as an extension, or second surface, of the hot table. Its ready ability to transfer heat permits the use of normal face-up lining procedures. As adhesive, either a waxiresin, such as microcrystalline wax Bareco Victory White/Piccolyte S115 (5: I), or a thermoplastic, such as AYACiAYAA (1: 1) dissolved in toluene, may be used, the choice being determined by the amount of penetration which will provide both proper consolidation and the desired final surface appearance. It has been found unnecessary to sand a panel surface to provide tooth, although the surface must be clean and free from grease or oils that might interfere with proper adhesion. Since no fabric is under tension and simple bonding is the only requirement, very low pressure is adequate to mount a painting to such a panel. Usual pre-lining procedures, such as setting down flaking, trimming and alignment of tear edges, inserts, etc., should be completed prior to mounting. If the painting is to be lined with waxiresin adhesive, it is infused from the reverse and an interleaf of either fiberglas (J. P. Stevens No. 7738) or 3M polyester fibermat attached to the reverse with the same adhesive and cupped to remove excess. Waxlresin adhesive is also applied to the tool (working) side of the prepared panel by placing the panel on the hot table and heating it to a point where the waxlresin adhesive remains fluid, and again cupping or squeezing to remove the excess. Removal of excess waxiresin is important, since vacuum diaphrams tend to seal the edges of the panel, preventing a flow of excess adhesive. If thermoplastic adhesive is to be used, the interleaf of either fiberglas or fibermat is stretched on a temporary strainer, just taut enough to prevent motion, and given two coats of adhesive, allowing sufficient time after each coat for the solvent to evaporate (24-48 hours). A single coat of the thermoplastic adhesive is also applied to the tool side of the panel and
Studies in Conservation, 22 (1977), 177-1 89

Aluminum honeycomb supports: their fabrication and use in painting conservation


allowed to dry. In every instance, an interleaf is used when bonding a painting to a panel. The interleaf serves two functions: one, as a cushion for a fabric supported painting against a very flat surface; and two, as a support for the painting during assembly, and should it become necessary for any reason in the future, during disassembly. The vacuum table is then prepared with a piece of glassine, taped flat. The coated panel is placed on the glassine and the interleaf and painting carefully positioned. A breather of

FIG. 8 Lay-up of irregularly shaped support panel*. Specifications: core-1 in thick ACG 4 in cell aluminum honeycomb; skins-25 mil x 1 in thick aluminum sheet; surround-f 7-ply waterproof plywood shape, cut in larger than the template provided; three interior fastening devices provided; internal seam box ACG ) in cell with 25 mil skins; adhesiveHexcelite HP 326.

FIG. 9 Final cutting of cured complex curved panel.

Completed complex curved panel. *Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640). Archangel. Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, Michigan, USA. Conservation performed by Intermuseum Laboratory, Oberlin, Ohio, USA. Panel fabrication by Washington Conservation Studio.
Studies in Conservation, 22 (1 977), 177-1 89


Marion F. Mecklenburg and Judith E. Webster

linen is laid from the corner of the panel to the port, and all covered with a second piece of glassine. The assembly is then covered with a diaphram of PVC, preferred because of its transparency and ability when heated to conform to the most complex texture. A low vacuum is applied slowly in order that a seal is not formed prematurely at the edges of the panel thus preventing even pressure across the surface of the painting by creating an air pocket. When the seal is complete, the surface temperature of the painting is brought to 155" F (68" C), following which it is cooled to room temperature under vacuum. Tacking edges will conform somewhat during lining and will only require trimming and slight additional manipulation with a hand iron to attach them to the edges of the panel. While primarily used as a structural support, large fabricated panels serve also to enlarge the working surface of smaller hot tables. For example, the large Thomas Moran painting previously mentioned was larger than the available hot table. The entire assembly of painting, interleaf and panel was surrounded by a breather of clothes line stapled to the wood edges and placed in an envelope of PVC. Vacuum hoses were attached to grommets in the envelope and air evacuated. part of the panel was placed on the hot table and when the adhesive flowed, the entire painting, in its envelope, was moved to heat the rest of the panel. As the whole assembly was independent of the hot table, it was lifted off the table after bonding, still under vacuum, and allowed to cool. It is significant that, while one half of the aluminum honevcomb an el was heated and the other half cool. there was no distortion or warping out of plane, nor any line of demarcation on the surface of the painting. This technique is applicable whether bonding the painting to a panel or to a fabric support.

G. L., 'Changes of Attitude Toward Conservation in the Arts', AIC Annual Meeting 1 STOUT, Dearborn, Michigan, USA, 29 May-1 June 1976. D. C., 'Treatment of a Flood-Damaged Oil Painting on Solid Support', AIC Annual 2 GOIST, Meeting, Dearborn, Michigan, USA, 29 May-1 June 1976. 3 POMERANTZ, L., 'Paintings: A Method of Mounting on a Rigid Support', AIC Annual Meeting, Dearborn, Michigan, USA, 29 May-1 June 1976. 4 DUNLUCE, A., private communication. R. D., and MERRILL, R., 'Build Up of Honeycomb Panel In Situ', 1IC-AG Bulletin 12 5 BUCK, (1972), 62-67.
Received21 October 1977 received both a B.S. and M.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Maryland. He has been a practising private painting conservator for 13 years. Mr Mecklenburg is currently conducting research into the physical analysis of the deterioration of paint film surfaces in conjunction with the University of Maryland and the Smithsonian Institution under the auspices of the National Museum Act.
M A R I O N F. M E C K L E N B U R G


graduated from the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, where she was also a technical painting instructor for two years. Both a professional painter and a designer, Mrs Webster has been a working conservator for 15 years.

Authors' address: Washington Conservation Studio, 4228 Howard Avenue, Kensington, Maryland 20795, USA. Abstrait-La fabrication et l'utilisation de panneaux a centres alveoles et supports pleins en aluminium pour la peinture sur tissus sont decrites, avec utilisation de materiaux et materiel de laboratoire normaux. Les techniques pour monter les peintures sur de tels supports pleins tout aluminium en utilisant la plaque de chaleur sous vide et les adhCsifs a base de resine et thermoplastiques sont abordees. D'autres methodes de fabrication des panneaux et des renseignements techniques sur les materiaux actuels sont notes. Studies in Conservation, 22 (1977), 177-189

Aluminunz honeycomb supports: their fabrication and use in painting conservation

Kurzfassung-Die Anfertigung und Benutzung von massiven Wabenkernstruktur-Aluminiumstiitztafeln fiir Gemalde auf Stoffgeweben unter Verwendung von Normalwerkstoffen und Laboratoriumsgeraten werden beschrieben. Techniken zur Befestigung von Gemalden an solchen ganz aus Aluminium bestehenden Abstiitzungen unter Anwendung des Vakuumwarmtisches sowie WachsjHarz- als auch thermoplastischen Klebstoffen werden besprochen. Alternative Methoden der Tafelherstellung und technische Informationen iiber derzeitige Materialien werden angegeben.

Studies irz Conservation, 22 (1977), 177-189

Honeycomb Core Construction for Supporting Panels R. D. Buck; R. Merrill Bulletin of the American Group. International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, Vol. 12, No. 2. (Apr., 1972), pp. 62-67.
Stable URL: Bulletin of the American Group. International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works is currently published by The American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works.

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Bulletin of the A m e r i c a n Group-IIC 12, No. 2, A p r i l 1972


The u s e of honeycomb sandwich panels a s a u x i l i a r y supp o r t s is too well established in our field to r e q u i r e any introductory d e scription. The p a r t i c u l a r point of i n t e r e s t t o u s i s the v a r i e t y of ways in which honeycomb construction m a y be built up in s i t u s o t o speak. Even h e r e we make no c l a i m to originality. I t was Victor Covey a t the Baltimore Museum of A r t who told one of u s (RDB) about Hexcel honeycomb products s o m e dozen y e a r s ago, and we a r e s u r e he h a s e x p e r i m e n t e d at s o m e length in t h e i r use. We venture t o m a k e t h i s brief exposition because we have not s e e n o r h e a r d o f the build-up of honeycomb c o n s t r u c tion i n u s e in our field. We m u s t explain what we m e a n by in s i t u construction and will d e s c r i b e a typical c a s e . The painting in question was a p o r t r a i t i n oil on heavy paper. The paper was brittle, and although it had been mounted on f a b r i c , it was t o r n and dog-eared at the edges. It was e a s i l y vulnerable t o f u r t h e r damage, even f r o m flexing. We wished t o put it on a r i g i d support t h a t would p r o t e c t the paint and paper f r o m any f u r t h e r flexing and s t r e s s . Instead of mounting the painting on a made-up honeycomb panel, we made up the panel on the back of the painting. In this c a s e the f i r s t s t e p w a s to p r e p a r e a n aluminum s h e e t about 1/32" thick by roughening one side with c o a r s e g a r n e t paper. A piece of linen was cut with wide m a r g i n s beyond the panel rectangle. This was carefully mounted on the aluminum s h e e t and c o v e r e d with a thin, even coat of E l m e r ' s Glue All. This was weighted and d r i e d overnight. The glue did not p e n e t r a t e the linen and we could then mount the painting on the linen on the hot table and c a r r y o u r a n o r m a l wax lining, m o r e o r l e s s ignoring the aluminum s h e e t which had been a d h e r e d behind the linen. Concurrently another aluminum s h e e t was p r e p a r e d by roughening one side. Then with a n epoxy adhesive honeycomb c o r e m a t e r i a l - - i n t h i s c a s e aluminum honeycomb 1/2" thick with 3/16" c e l l s w a s mounted with a wood p e r i m e t e r about 3 / 4 " wide. This back section w a s weighted and allowed to d r y overnight.


We w e r e then r e a d y t o a s s e m b l e the panel, again m o r e o r l e s s ignoring the painting mounted with wax on the f r o n t panel. With the s a m e epoxy cement, the panel was made up and weighted f o r drying. F i n a l l y the linen m a r g i n s w e r e brought around the s i d e s of the panel
% .-

i r e c t o r , I n t e r m u s e u m Laboratory, Oberlin, Ohio 44074 **D Mr. M e r r i l l i s a n ICA T r a i n e e i n Conservation a t Oberlin.

and adhered to the back s u r f a c e with wax. T h e r e i s , of c o u r s e , no problem of warping and the painting i s r e a d i l y removable by melting the wax adhesive between it and the linen. We have built up a number of such panels to s a t i s f y c e r t a i n s t r u c t u r a l exigencies. We have found the procedure t o be straightforward and the r e s u l t s satisfactory, providing a rigid, light panel of good dimensional stability. We have a l s o t r i e d s o m e variations that m a y be of i n t e r e s t . We recently t r e a t e d an ingenuous A m e r i c a n landscape painted on a thin tinned i r o n sheet. Like many paintings on m e t a l , the s h e e t had suffered a little f r o m bending and shallow c r e a s e s . F o r protection a g a i n s t f u r t h e r damage of this s o r t , we made i t the f r o n t of a honeycomb panel. In this case, however, we used Kraft paper c o r e m a t e r i a l 112 ' I thick with 3/16'! cell size. F i r s t the attachment of the honeycomb c o r e to the i r o n s h e e t was made. The back s u r f a c e of the tinned s h e e t was thoroughly cleaned. The adhesive we used in this c a s e was Gustav B e r g e r ' s BEVA, which has been d e s c r i b e d e l s e w h e r e in a number of applications. BEVA was used because i t i s e a s i l y dissolved in naptha or softened by heating. The paper c o r e was selected because it could be cut through with a knife, if need be, t o f u r t h e r simplify r e m o v a l of the panel. The back s u r f a c e used was an aluminum s h e e t applied in 3M epoxy. T h e r e i s a wide variation of m a t e r i a l s that can be used in these honeycomb constructions. The c o r e m a t e r i a l itself i s obtainable in aluminum, Kraft p a p e r , Mylar, and f i b e r g l a s s --phenolic r e s i n in a number of v a r i e t i e s . T h e r e i s a range of c e l l s i z e s and you can name the thickness you p r e f e r . Normally we a r e assuming f l a t panels, but c o r e m a t e r i a l can a l s o be shaped to curved s u r f a c e s . The adhesives a r e those appropriate to the m a t e r i a l s used. In addition t o epoxies, t h e r e a r e other thermosetting r e s i n s , t h e r m o plastic adhesives and their emulsions, two polymer adhesives, inorganic cements, glues, and even p a s t e s . Facing m a t e r i a l s of m e t a l a r e best known in industry, but Bakelite, l a m i n a t e s , and f i b e r g l a s s a r e a l s o usable. One s a l e s m a n has r e p o r t e d a s a t i s f a c t o r y panel made of c a r d b o a r d f a c e s over a Kraft paper c o r e bonded with rubber cement. Although this might not be recommended for a work of a r t , we should not overlook a construction of a c i d - f r e e r a g board f a c e s bonded with a m o r e a p p r o p r i a t e adhesive. We h a v e , of c o u r s e , l e a r n e d a few r a t h e r obvious l e s s o n s . One m u s t consider the stiffness of the facing m a t e r i a l , m e t a l , paper o r whatever in relation to the cell s i z e of the honeycomb c o r e . Too l a r g e a cell m a y allow the unsupported facing to sag between supporting walls, giving r i s e to a defect called "show through". F o r sophisticated

engineering , one must take into consideration possible "show through" from thin wall honeycomb material. We have had no problem with the 3/16" cells and the relatively heavy facings we have used. The panel construction must be scheduled with a thought to the drying of the adhesive. If drying i s a consequence of solvent escape, one must take c a r e to provide the escape route for volatile compounds. The construction must be weighted during drying, making use of porous pads to permit solvent escape. BEVA is an adhesive that may be applied and allowed to dry a t the surface before assembly and heat activation. There i s a honeycomb material available in which each cell i s perforated to allow solvent escape laterally during drying. It is a l s o necessary to apply some adhesive to the honeycomb itself s o that the bonding surface reaches up into each cell and is not r e s t r i c t e d to the very narrow end surface of the honeycomb wall. Thus in the assembly of the landscape on a tin plate we used BEVA, applied r a t h e r liberally on the one side, and, after s e v e r a l days of drying, applied the closing surface i n epoxy which will d r y without solvent evolution. There a r e , we believe, many occasions in which the honeycomb construction provides a useful solution to a n awkward problem. The opportunities to build up core constructions in situ deserve consider ation. To illustrate a n unusual application of c o r e construction, let us turn to Ross M e r r i l l who has studied core constructions with considerable imagination.

The problem was to assemble some thirty stone sections of a limestone relief for exhibition. The relief in question is the property of the Kimbell A r t Museum, F o r t Worth, Texas. The treatment described was c a r r i e d out under the direction of P e r r y Huston, Conservator. The plan was to suspend the 9 ' x 6' assembled relief with a net weight of 750 lbs. a s a f r e e floating unit standing some 12" away from its supporting wall. After much planning we agreed that the unit should be an assembly of mechanically independent units. This would simplify the preparation of each unit and its registration into the whole assembly. More important, if the half ton assembly were to be moved, it could be m o r e safely disassembled and transported piecemeal. We a l s o anticipated the possibility of trouble, in which case a unit could be removed f o r treatment. Our problem, therefore, was to find a method of reversible attachment of a limestone fragment to an aluminum plate. After consider ing epoxy bonds and other devices, it became apparent that a honeycomb construction might serve adequately and still be safely removable.

Our p r e l i m i n a r y t e s t s showed p l a s t e r of P a r i s to have sufficient strength when used with a sample honeycomb c o r e . Such a c o r e could be attached with epoxy to an aluminum plate. Removal, if n e c e s s a r y , could be c a r r i e d out by slicing the c o r e p a r a l l e l t o the plate and mechanic a l l y removing the p l a s t e r

At the suggestion of a representative of the Hexcel C o r poration, we adopted a honeycomb m a t e r i a l of phenolic r e s i n and fiber g l a s s . The c o r e dimensions w e r e 314" thick and 318" cells. We tested p l a s t e r of P a r i s a s an adhesive bonding to phenolic c o r e and r e s u l t s showed tensile strength of 123 l b s / i n 2 and, m o r e important, s h e a r strength of 136 l b s / i n 2 . The calculated r e q u i r e m e n t of the stone c o r e adhesive was a maximum of 5 oz/in2 s h e a r strength. The technique was briefly a s follows: 1. The phenolic c o r e was adhered to a 1/8" aluminum plate of the proper shape with Hysol a r e o s p a c e epoxy 9309.1.

2 . The back surface of the stone was lightly sandblasted to i n c r e a s e s u r f a c e a r e a .

3. The stone was wetted with demineralized w a t e r . P l a s t e r , mixed with demineralized water, was trowelled

onto the stone.

5. The p l a t e / c o r e a s s e m b l y was s e t into the wet p l a s t e r .


The stone was s e t a s i d e for final drying.

7. When thoroughly s e t , the stone was r e g i s t e r e d into i t s place in the a s s e m b l y and bolted to the basic supporting panel.

C r o s s section of completed support s t r u c t u r e : A . Limestone r e l i e f ; B. P l a s t e r of P a r i s bonding stone to phenolic c o r e / a l u m i n u m plate; C . Stainless s t e e l swivel bolts attaching plates to basic support; D. Basic support bolted into concrete and t r a v e r t i n e wall.

Sample test plate with swivel bolt attachment and stainless steel bolt in place.

Test plate attached to sample stone with plaster of Par i s .


Phenolic core sliced in half for mechanical removal of support


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MSC Honeycomb Solid Support Products

MuseuM Services Corporation manufactures all sizes of honeycomb core panels. Surfaces can vary from aluminum to polyester to matboard. Constructed to nearly any shape or size, size restrictions come from handling and transportation limitations. Our largest panel made to date is 4.8 x 3.6m (16 x 12 feet). Panels can also be made in sections for assembly insitu. APPLICATION Honeycomb solid support panels offer excellent rigidity, lightweight, and strength. Made to order, solid supports are time savers in the lining process. The thermal coefficient of expansion and contraction for aluminum honeycomb panels is similar to most organic materials Small, medium and oversized honeycomb panels are our specialty. Shapes vary from rectangular to irregular shaped, curved, inserts for doorways, oval tops, out of square corners, ceiling and oversized paintings, very small paintings, oval shapes artistic sketch boards, difficult bonding situations, flag and textile supports, and much more. FUNCTION Honeycomb and solid support panels maintain the visual plane of the artwork. Large artworks are often subject to considerable stress from climatic and gravitational forces. Stabilization with solid support panels overcomes these stresses. When traditional support techniques, such as fabric linings do not stabilize the artwork sufficiently, solid supports serve as excellent substitutes. Solid supports minimize stress within the various layers of the painting. They reduce distortions including sagging, buckling and cupping of the paint film. Small objects also benefit from the use of solid supports. The bonding strength of the adhesive can be low, since the object attaches to the entire surface of the solid support. Low adhesive strengths facilitate reversibility or removal of the object from the solid support. Low pressure, usually around 3.39 kPa (1 inch Hg) is sufficient. In some cases simple hand pressure is enough. HANGING AND MOUNTING OPTIONS Threaded metal inserts placed inside the back of our solid support honeycomb panels offer optimal mounting techniques. A basswood edge surrounds each honeycomb panels. Mounting devices can be attached to the wood edge or mounted to wood placed inside the support at specified locations. MOUNTING SERVICES Artist linens mounted to the solid support panel offer a stable painting surface. An interleaf is recommended. Acidfree papers, such as rag board or pastels can be mounted to one or both surfaces of the panels. When applied to the surface like a gesso, alkyd primer substitutes as linen. This approach restricts conservation reversibility. Woven Fiberglass Mat is an excellent interleaf material. It is a stable and will not show any imperfections. It becomes transparent when infused with microcrystalline wax. SIZES AND SEAMS When solid support panels are larger than 48 inches in two dimensions, seams are necessary. The seams are filled and feather sanded to assure smoothness at the joints. Internal box splices provide strength at the seams. Honeycomb, Composite structures, Expansion Bolt Stretchers, Tycore, Acid-free Corrugated Cardboard, Multiuse, Artist Panels, MSC Lining Support, "hexcell", Aluminum Honeycomb, Solid Support Panels, Alucobond, DiBond, Aerolam

April 2002



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Sizes Offered:
Product Name 0511 Aluminum honeycomb panel 0512 Aluminum honeycomb panel 0513 Aluminum honeycomb panel

MSC Aluminum Honeycomb Panels

Solid Support Panel; aluminum skin, aluminum core, basswood edge (close out)
Product No 0511 0512 0513 Price per sq. foot $USD Price per sq. meter $USD Thickness mm 12.7 15.8 25.4 5.4 Weight kilos /m2 Thickness inch 1/2 5/8 1 Weight pounds/ square foot 1.12 1.2 1.4

Sizes Offered:
Product Name 0521 Fiberglas honeycomb panel 0522 Fiberglas honeycomb panel 0523 Fiberglas honeycomb panel

MSC Fiberglas Skin Honeycomb Panels

Solid Support Panel; Fiberglas skin, aluminum core, basswood edge
Product No 0521 0522 0523 Price per sq. foot $USD Price per sq. meter $USD Thickness Weight mm kilos /m2 12.7 15.8 25.4 5.4 Thickness inch 1/2 5/8 1 Weight pounds/ square foot 1.0 1.1 1.2

DiBond (formerly Alucobond)

MSC DiBond Composite Panels

Composite panel. This panel offers a lower cost alternative for smaller requirements. This panel consists of top and bottoms skins of aluminum (.010 gauge) with a low-density polyethylene core. Two sizes offered: 2 or 4mm (1/8 or 1/4in.). Weight is 5.4 kg/2m(1.12lb/sq.ft). Sizes Offered:
Product Name 0531 DiBond cut to order 0532 DiBond cut to order Product No 0531 0532 Price per sq. foot $USD

DiBond; Aluminum skin, polyethylene core, no edge

Price per sq. cm $USD .0161 .0226 Thickness mm 2 4 Weight kilos /m2 Thickness inch 1/8 3/16 Weight pounds/ square foot

Accessories and Services Offered:
Product Name 0541 Insert nuts installed /pair Product No 0541 Price $USD

MSC Panel Accessories and Services


size #10-24

April 2002


Product Name 0542 linen mounted to panel 05423 Fiberglas interleaf mounted to panel 0544 Internal wood support 0545 Rag board mounted to panel 0546 Featherboard mounted to panel 0547Custom Panel Work 0548 Hanging Cleats Aluminum 0549 Hanging Cleats Aluminum Product No 0542 0543 0544 0545 0546 0547 0548 0549 Price $USD

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notes size

Price per sq. foot; buyer provides Price per sq. foot Per 4 foot/ 1.1m Price per sq. foot plus rag board Price per sq. foot plus featherboard Inquire Regular Heavy Duty 72" x 1/16" 72" x 1/8"

Product Name 0553 Masonite, tempered 0554 Formica 0555 Rag Board 0556.1 Sunbrella #4614 Tan 46" m/yd 0556.2 Sunbrella #4610 Linen 60"m/yd 0558 Featherboard 1/8" Product No 0553 0554 0555 0556.1 0556.2 0558 Price $USD

Honeycomb Panel Surface Alternatives

Size 4 x 8 foot sheet 4 x 8 foot sheet 60 x 104 sheet 46 inches wide 60 inches wide 4 x 8 foot sheet 2 1/8 Thickness Thickness mm inches 3.17 .079 1/8 1/32 4 ply


MSC ArtePlex Painting Panels

ArtePlex Artist painting panels made of inert, composite, rigid panels (DiBond). 2mm (1/8 inch) thick, lightweight, and covered with sun-resistant, non-stretch, linen colored, polyester fabric. Ready for acrylic gesso Sizes Offered:
Product Name 0561 ArtePlex Product No 0561 Price per sq. foot $USD Price per sq. cm $USD .0205 Thickness mm 2 Weight kilos /m2

Artist Painting Panel

Thickness inch 1/8 Weight pounds /square foot


Tycore Acid-free Honeycomb Paper Panels

Tycore panels are acid-free paper panels for works of art on paper and textiles. The core is acid-free paper honeycomb. Sizes Offered:
Product Name Tycore 48 x 96 Product No 0570-1404 Price per carton $USD panels per carton 6 Thickness mm 1.27 Weight kilos /m2 Thickness inch 1/2

Weight pounds/ sq. ft.

April 2002


Product Name Tycore 40 x 60 Tycore 32 x 40 Product No 0570-1405 0570-1406 Price per carton $USD panels per carton 4 4 Thickness mm 1.90 1.27

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Weight kilos /m2 Thickness inch 3/4 1/2 Weight pounds/ sq. ft.

Product Name 0581 Curved Panels Product No 0581 Price per sq. foot $USD

Curved Aluminum Honeycomb Panels

Thickness mm 1.58 Weight kilos /m2 Thickness inch 5/8 Weight pounds/ sq. foot. 1.12

General Background

Expansion Bolt and Keyed Wooden Stretchers

Expansion bolt and keyed stretchers offer an economical and traditional way of re-stretching paintings and textiles. The corners adjust to account for the changes in expansion and contraction of the painting or textile. Crossbars are used when spans exceed 102cm (40 inches). Basswood is the wood of choice for its even density, smoothness and warp resistance. Heavy-duty stretchers use thicker basswood.

Sizes Offered:
Product Name 0611 EBS Standard Beveled Edge 0612 EBS Smaller Beveled Edge 0613 Heavy Duty Beveled Edge 0614 EBS Heavier Duty Beveled Edge 0615 EBS Expansion Bolts each 0616 EBS Small order set up fee 0619 EBS Oval Beveled Edge 0622 Keyed double mitered Artist 0623 Keyed mitered French 0624 Keyed mortised & mitered smaller 0625 Keys per/100 0626 Small order fee Product No 0611 0612 0613 0614 0645 0616 0619 0622 0623 0624 0625 0626

Expansion Bolt and Keyed Wooden Stretchers

Price per inch $USD Thickness Thickness Cm inch 2.7 1-1/16 2.7 3.2 4.2 1-1/16 1-1/4 1-1/2



Basswood Stretcher Types Expansion Bolt (leBraun style), beveled edge Keyed, double mitered (typical artist), beveled edge Keyed, mitered and half-mitered (French style), beveled edge Standard, smaller cut and heavy-duty styles are available

April 2002


MuseuM SERVICES CORPORATION TOLL FREE 800/MSC-1107 1107 E. Cliff Road Burnsville, Minnesota (MN) 55337-1514 USA EQUIPMENT, SUPPLIES, AND SERVICES FOR INSTITUTIONS AND INDIVIDUALS Pricing Shipping and Packaging

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Fractions are rounded up; crossbars are considered equal in length to the horizontal members. Unless other wise preferred, our wooden stretchers are disassembled and shipped via United Parcel Services (UPS). Some assembly is required. Larger sized stretchers are shipped partially assembled via common carrier (truck

April 2002



My search for a better painting support began because I noticed that the 1/2 cabinet-grade birch plywood panel stock I had been using for painting supports was becoming less reliable, primarily in its resistance to warping. Finding a problem-free painting support is a common conundrum, and not long after starting this research I heard about an artist who had begun a major commission on panel, only to run into warping. (She had to repaint some panels twice.) I wrote to her to see how she had solved the problem and received the following: Yes, it was very maddening and frustrating about the warping. The final panels were constructed by Dovetail, a furniture company. They used 3/8" MDO panels front and back and the panels measured 38" x 34" x 1.5" with a hollow core. The back panels had several 1" holes to allow for air to circulate. Each weighed approximately 18-20 lbs. They received three coats of Winsor & Newton acrylic gesso primer on the painting surface and one coat on back and sides. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Because this work will hang in a non-climate controlled area I, too, had to use materials that had a degree of permanency. I do not contemplate using panels again. It is clear that this artist went through a good deal, and probably ended up spending a lot of money to have a furniture company construct custom panels for her, all of which may have put her off using panels again. Further, even after all this effort and expense, I doubt that her solution was archival. In my search for painting supports, I hoped to find panels that would have flat, smooth surfaces that would stay straight without bracing (since bracing adds considerably to the time of preparation), though as I inquired, I discovered additional issues relating to the longevity of works on panel that needed to be taken into account. Initially, though, I determined the ideal panel would also be lightweight, affordable, and available without the need to place massive orders. Most of my search was for plywoods, since wood is the traditional material in the history of painting on panel, so the method of transforming such a panel into a painting surface seemed well established. (Given the processing of todays wood products, however, that is not completely the case. *) Depending upon what I found, I figured some compromise in some of these criteria might well be necessary. A few promising leads turned into frustrating dead-ends: A. ApplePly: ApplePly is a premium quality veneer core panel constructed from uniform laminations of solid grade 1/16" Alder and Birch. This all hardwood core produces a strong, lightweight panel with a minimum number of voids and a naturally attractive edge. ApplePly is available from 1/4" through 1-1/4" in thickness and 48" X 96" and 48" X 120" panels. ( I found a

couple of distributors in Richmond on the ApplePly website, but when I went to their warehouses, they said they no longer carried that product. ApplePly is made by States Industries, Inc., a west coast corporation. In calls to them I found that there are no longer distributors for the product on the east coast. In addition, they have temporarily shut down production of it because the wood they use come from Russia, and a bad winter there last year means they cant get the wood. B. ArmorCore: ArmorCore panels combine the low weight and high strength advantages of veneer cored panels with the superior flatness and higher density of MDF [medium density fiberboard]. ArmorCore panels are stiffer, lighter and stronger than composition panels of comparable thickness, yet the MDF crossbands match the best composition surface characteristics. ( ArmorCore is also made by States Industries, and there are no east coast distributors. C. Baltic Birch. Sometimes called Russian Birch, Baltic Birch is a hardwood multi-ply (more plies than usual) light color plywood, but it seems to be only available in B and B/B surfaces, which is not top grade (meaning it may have cut-outs or knots on both sides). The Russian source makes me wonder how broadly available it will be, given the last winter. No gaps and hardwood through the plies, it should be worth pricing out. Baltic birch uses birch as the substrate and is probably the most common type of HDP [High density plywoods (HDP) typically come in either maple or birch specie. Unlike common plywood, HDP has many more plies, is generally void free, and uses a stronger species than fir. HDP is commonly used for drawer side material as it is strong, stable, and has a moderately attractive edge]. This will come in 5' x 5' sheets. For a 1/2" sheet, there are typically 7 to 9 plies. Being birch, the surface does not finish as nicely as the maple counterpart, and there is a tendency for splintering at the edge of a machined cut. Rick Christopherson; ( D. Marine grade plywood: Plywood panels manufactured with the same glueline durability requirements as other exterior panels but with more restrictive veneer quality and manufacturing requirements. The grade is particularly suitable for marine applications where bending is required, as in boat hulls. (Engineered Wood Association Panel Handbook and Grade Glossary American Plywood Association APA 1997) This grade initially sounded good because the interior plies are clear, or gap free, making stresses more even. It turns out this is because marine plywood is bent for hulls and needs to bend evenly. This would still have been OK if the face veneers available were good, but quality face veneers for marine plywood are selected for appearance (color and grain pattern), and care is given to matching colors and patterns that, for my use, would simply get painted over. Good marine plywood, therefore, is quite expensive (over $100 for 1/4 4 x 8 sheet). E. PVC Panel: RIGID PVC FOAM BOARD; A LIGHTWEIGHT, TOUGH, RIGID PLASTIC BOARD WHERE APPLICATIONS ARE ONLY LIMITED BY IMAGINATION I have a piece of this I picked up from a sign maker, and it appeared to be a great product: light, rigid, cheap, and cradles could

easily attached with PVC glue. The bad news, of course, is the material PVC (polyvinyl chloride), which has lethal associations in its production, off-gassing, and destruction or disposal. Further, the opinion of most of the people I talked to who work with plywoods for a living is that large panels, especially the thinner (lighter) ones, need reinforcement or a cradle to stay flat. (A cradle is a rigid support frame attached to the back of a panel to prevent warps, bowing, cupping, and cracking.) I decided that another side of my research should be to build some cradled panels with materials locally available to see what combinations and procedures produced the best result. The following report therefore begins with a section on homemade panels, followed by a section on alternatives to plywood panels and a third section on commercially available panels. This is not an exhaustive study, nor are my sources cited according to any academic format, though they are generally identified in such a way that they can be easily traced. This is simply the record I kept of my own search for a good painting support. Bold type indicates supports I tried during this project. * See PROVISO at the end of the HOME-MADE PANELS section. David Dodge Lewis 9/01/08

HOME-MADE PANELS [in the order undertaken]

The following tests were experiments primarily to find an effective and inexpensive method to cradle lightweight plywood panels with flat, tight-grain face veneers. By way of explanation, four common types of warps or bends are: bow (a bend running with the grain, or the length of a board), crook (an edge bend), cup (a bend running across the grain, or the width of a board), and twist (ends of a board bent in opposite directions). 1. 1/4 birch plywood cradled with 1 x 2 fir. This is a combination I have used in the past that had worked well, though this time I did not construct an independent cradle frame ahead of time. The fir came in 1 x 4 boards, which I ripped in half to give a more narrow depth to the panel and an exposed surface for gluing. Each cradleboard was mitered for the corner and was glued down separately. When finished, I drilled across the miter and glued in a dowel to link the corners. The advantages in proceeding this way are several: gluing a pre-constructed cradle to a panel requires many clamps, the cradle tends to slip on the glue, and the glue may start setting up before one gets all the way around the panel with clamps; the panel should be set flat on a raised surface just somewhat smaller than the panel so that there is room for the clamps; if there are nails in the corners, as is generally the case when an independent mitered cradle is constructed, it is risky to trim the panel later, if necessary.

Gluing and clamping seemed to proceed well, but after the primer and gesso had been added (unless otherwise indicated, primer and gesso are applied with a smooth surface roller), there seemed to be a slight cupping of the panel on one long side. (The grain ran across this panel.) I initially thought this was because the plywood was older, very dry, and porous, and it had cupped some, bending the cradle; it may, however, have been that one of the cradle boards bowed after being ripped, as sometimes happens. In researching commercial producers of artists panels, I found a website with panels cradled with plywood, which seemed worth a try. To keep the cradle from warping (further) after the fact, I used a urethane to seal it.

above: grain of birch plywood panel in raking light 2. 1/4 birch plywood cradled with 3/4 birch plywood strips roughly 2.75 wide. I applied one layer of priming to the front of the panel so that if the bend in #1 was due to a porous veneer, the plywood could bend before being glued down. It bowed slightly toward the front, but the next morning it was actually bowed away from the front. The plywood cradle strips were not mitered, but were butted, and the plies were parallel to the panel itself. While I cut enough birch strips for two panels, some of the strips developed bows, and I was lucky to have enough straight ones to make one panel. The long sides of the cradle went down first, and all seemed straight. When the first short piece was added between the long pieces, the fit was close, and I noticed that there was a slight cup forward in the middle after the glue was dry. (The grain ran with this panel.) I cut the second short piece shorter in case the tight fit was somehow pushing the center out. Added layers of primer/stain-sealer and gesso seem to make the cup even more pronounced, and I thought that unless it flattens out, this panel would be unusable. Cup on the short side was 1/8. Painting on the back of the panel may have done a little good, but for some reason, it doesnt move things as much as painting on the front does. While not ideal, this panel ended up usable. 3. 1/4 oak plywood cradled with 3/4 oak plywood strips roughly 2.5 wide. I applied one layer of priming to the front of the panel so that if the bend in #1 was due to a porous veneer, the plywood could bend before being glued down. It bowed markedly

toward the front, but the next morning it was nearly flat. The cradle strips were not mitered, but were butted. Again, while I cut enough oak strips for two panels, some of the strips warped, and I was lucky to have enough straight ones to make one panel. The long sides of the cradle went down first, and all seemed straight. As with #2, when the first short piece was added between the long pieces, the fit was close, and I noticed that there was a slight cup forward in the middle after the glue was dry. It may be, though, that the panel has a slight tendency to cup, or bend across the grain of the veneer, since in the three first tests, what bend there is is most pronounced across the grain of the veneer. None of these bends is so great as to make the panel unusable, but it is frustrating, since it should be possible to get them completely straight. Added layers of primer and gesso seem to make the cup even more pronounced, and again I feared that unless it flattened out a lot, this panel would be unusable. It did seem to flatten out pretty well, but it is plain why oak plywood is not used commonly as a painting surface: Three layers of gesso and the grain is still pronounced. Also, in spite of the Kilz primer, a stain seemed to move up from the oak panel. This panel was unusable.

above: grain of oak plywood panel in raking light below: grain of oak plywood panel coming through priming and gesso 4. 1/4 birch plywood cradled with 1 x 2 poplar after priming and gessoing. (These are finished 1 x 2 boards from Lowes, and since I did not rip them from wider boards, these stayed as straight as when I bought them.) After 3 layers each of Kilz (the primer/stain-sealer) and gesso, the cup on the short side was a sizable 3/8. I turned the panel over, ran a line of masking tape down the edges to protect the area where the cradleboards would be glued, and rolled on some Kilz to see if it is possible to pull the cup back in a little before adding the cradle. The Kilz on the back almost completely flattened the panel, since it was not secured to a cradle. I put on a second coat, which actually cupped it toward the back. To balance, I put another layer of gesso on the front, then took off the tape and began gluing the poplar cradleboards to it. I butted the corners, short side up against long side, and

eventually doweled the corners, since I saw on test #3 that pressure near the corner could bend the panel a little in the area of the gap between cradleboards. The sides came out quite flat. The only down side was that it has a slight twist so that, if laid flat on the floor, one corner wants to be up a little. It can go flat and stay that way with just a minimum of pressure, so it isnt too big a problem. This may come from not having the corners mitered, since mitered corner contact with sufficient surface area would reduce twisting. I tried putting small plywood triangles in the four corners, but it did not help. I added a turnbuckle (see below) and that straightened out the twist. Since panel #5 also had a twist, I added a turnbuckle to that one, too, which seems to have worked. In the future, I will be sure to prop the panel up evenly when gluing and clamping each side to help keep it flat.

above: turnbuckle added to straighten panel; one end is attached to a screw eye near the panel, and the other is near the edge of the cradle so that the force of the turnbuckle pulls the panel into alignment. 5&6. Two panels of 1/4 maple plywood. Maple is a great surface (see photo below), with a tighter grain than even birch, so it costs more; I had to special order a sheet for $35. I put three layers of Kilz on the back first, with tape around the edge to protect the area where the cradle would be glued. The panel developed a slight bow and cup, making it dome toward the painted side (the back). This seems to be a pattern; probably the damp paint soaks into the grain, expands the wood, then dries with the grain is somewhat expanded. Subsequent layers of Kilz added to the front seemed to flatten the panel out somewhat for the same reason. I put on only two layers, as I was running out of Kilz and that should be enough. Then I put three layers of gesso on over those, and the panel began to bow and cup the opposite way. To flatten it out a little, the next day I put one layer of watered-down gesso (the last of it) onto the backs of the panels. The cradle was added to the first panel (#5) one side at a time, from very straight poplar 1 x 2s, long sides first, then short sides butted in between (since the boards I have are 6 long, so I get two short sides from one board). Reflecting upon the twist in #4 and finding a little in this first maple panel, the second cradle I mitered the corners. I also did the gluing on a table so that the panel lay flat with the clamps hanging over the edge. These two things (mostly the use of the table) minimized the twist.

above: grain of maple panel in raking light 7. 1/4 birch plywood with 3/4 oak plywood cradle, on edge. Having seen some professional panels re-enforced with plywood on edge, I thought I would try it. I mitered the corners, since otherwise the veneer might catch on objects and tear. This is also the first panel on which I used Safecoat Safe Seal (see below) to reduce offgassing and acid leech into the paint surface. The cradle was added before any paint on the panel. I began priming with two coats of Safe Seal, sanding after the first coat, then three coats of Kitz and three of acrylic gesso. I dont know if it is the Safe Seal or the plywood strips on edge (probably the latter), but the panel is perfectly flat. It would be great if I didnt have to balance the paint on the front with paint on the back. Each of the above 1/4 plywood panels with cradles weighs in at about 10 pounds for a 3 x 4 panel. 8. Dibond is an aluminum composite material (ACM) made of two pre-painted sheets of .012" aluminum with a solid polyethylene core. (SEE ALTERNATIVES TO PLYWOOD PANELS, 1. Aluminum Panels, B. Dibond.) The 4 x 8 x 4mm sheet arrived with a plastic protective surface on one side. I cut two 3 x 4 panels and a series of smaller panels on a panel saw. I had to trim some, for the plastic core stuck out about an 1/8th of an inch beyond the aluminum on one long side. I had to file the edges, for the cut aluminum was rough and sharp. The 3 x 4 panels are light weight and have some flex, but could be held flat in a frame. Golden Acrylics suggested that the priming to use on these aluminum panels is Sherwin Williams DTM Bonding Primer, an industrial & marine coating. It is a waterborne, acrylic emulsion, adhesion-promoting bonding primer designed to be part of a system for coating pre-finished metal siding. It has a shelf life of 36 months unopened, but is available only in gallons (at least around here) and is expensive ($84.85, but I got a 20% discount). I ended up using less than a quart on this first batch of panels. Another priming option was mentioned to me by John Oldham from Harbor Sales: The paint on both products is a baked on enamel, the only difference you should see is in the finish- Dibond is a satin matte and the Lusterboard is gloss. [This is noticeable.] That primer [DTM Bonding Primer] will work, but I also have customers that use the factory finish as the prime coat. They will lightly scuff the factory finish to promote paint adhesion, wipe the panel with alcohol to make sure it is clean, and repaint with the new color. The Sherwin Williams salesman recommended that the surface be cleaned with

something like Windex to really clean it, and to apply the primer with a foam roller for a smooth finish; no scarring or scoring of the surface is necessary. Being an acrylic, it is a good primer for the acrylic gesso, but one needs to wait at least 4 hours before applying the gesso. One coat should be sufficient. It is off-white, so it is easier to check for coverage. Stirring the primer, it felt gritty, which is not surprising when one finds out it has quartz, calcium carbonate, and mica in it; also titanium oxide and zinc oxide, which helps account for the plaster-like cool-gray white. I peeled off the protective layer(s) on the Dibond, checked for dents and scratches in the surface to see which side up to put it, and cleaned them with glass cleaner. The foam roller didnt make the primer go down any more smooth than a nap roller for smooth surfaces. The roller slid some, which is not surprising, both surfaces being so smooth. One thing I noticed in rolling out the primer is that the Dibond has a duller finish on the aluminum, more like a matte plastic, whereas the LusterBoard has a shiny finish. The primer also seemed to go down more evenly on the LusterBoard. I hope they bond equally well. After it was dry, it was possible to see that the coverage had not been 100% on all panels (since the enamel underneath is reflective, but the primer is matte), so I went back over a few. The primer smells of ammonia (being acrylic), and took several hours to dry because the room was cool. I also had to re-file the edges of some, since the aluminum was still sharp. I began putting on the gesso with a foam roller designed for very smooth surfaces. It sprayed gesso everywhere, much more than a knap roller does, and left tiny bubbles to dry in the gesso. When dry, the bubbles had to be sanded down, so I have dispensed with the foam roller and replaced it with a knap roller for smooth surfaces (which is what I normally use). The drying was taking a long time in the cooler studio, and the coverage wasnt as good for some reason, so after I finished painting for the day, I moved the panels upstairs to a warmer and drier room for their final layers. The 3 x 4 panel weighs about 11 pounds. 9. LusterBoard is also an aluminum composite material (ACM) made of two prepainted sheets of .012" aluminum with a hardwood core of a premium grade, rigid, exterior furniture-grade plywood. (SEE ALTERNATIVES TO PLYWOOD PANELS, 1. Aluminum Panels, C. LusterBoard.) .) The 4 x 8 x 1/2 sheet arrived with a plastic protective surface on both sides. I cut two 3 x 4 panels and a series of smaller panels on a panel saw. I had to file the edges, for the cut aluminum was rough and sharp. The 3 x 4 panels are slightly heavier than 1/2 plywood since it appears to be 1/2 plywood with an aluminum sheet laminated to each side. The 3 x 4 panels seem very flat and straight; there are some voids exposed by the cuts that need to be filled. Having a 1/2 plywood core, a 3x 4 panel of LusterBoard weighs about 18 pounds. (For priming LusterBoard, see priming of Dibond, immediately above.) 10. 1/4 mdf (medium density fiberboard) core plywood, maple faces, with 3/4

plywood cradle, on edge. This is rather like an untempered Masonite with maple veneer on both sides. Advantages include consistent and true thickness, no voids or fissures in the core, no telegraphing (show-through on a smooth overlaid plywood panel surface of underlying grain or defects; see photo below), and the even surface of the fiberboard gives the veneer a consistent surface to adhere to. MDF offers great stability and is the least likely to react when subjected to a measurable change in environment. It offers a very smooth, void-free surface for veneer lay-up. MDF has greater strength and screw holding properties than PBC. Like PBC however, MDF is one of the heavier core options. This core is especially well suited for thin panel applications such as door inserts and paneling. (The Wurth Wood Group Disadvantages: heavier than veneer core, doesnt hold screws as well, and dangerous dust to inhale (be sure to cut this outside and with a respirator if possible). I found a maple face (B grade) over MDF core for $53.61. B Grade = Where the natural characteristics and appearance of the species are desirable. Pin knots and small burls, combined average 16 - 8 can be 1/4; conspicuous burls, maximum 1/2; sound and repaired knots in combination, 4; repaired knots, 4; mineral streak, yes; vine; yes; rough cut, slight; blended repaired tapering hairline splits, fours 1/8 x 8 (The Wurth Wood Group) A 3x 4 panel costs about $20.00 (w/o cradle) and weighs 12 lbs. (w/o cradle) or 16 lbs (w/cradle). I glued and clamped birch plywood on edge as a cradle with little problem. After one coat of Safe Seal on the back, two on the front, and three layers of Kilz on the front, I noticed a pronounced bow toward the front. I put a second coat of Safe Seal and layers of Kilz on the back, but it didnt work. I had to cut the cradle off and make the panel smaller, with a new cradle. In the mean time, I got another 3 x 4 sheet of mdf maple plywood, put tape along the back edge (to make a gluing surface for the cradle), then sealed the back with the Safe Seal and a couple of layers of Kilz. Then I put Safe Seal and a couple of layers of Kilz on the front and started gluing on a cradle. This panel was flat. As a result of a couple of experiments to see whether it was the panel or the cradle that caused the bend mentioned above, it seems it was the panel. I prepared smaller panels of mdf core plywood, back and front, and found that it tended to bend toward the painted side (either front or back) while the application was wet, but eventually flattened out. Once I got to the gesso layer, I put 3 coats on the front for only one on the back, but it still flattened out. I also glued a 40 cradle board (3/4 plywood on-edge) to a strip of 1/4 plywood, and the result was straight when it dried. I then sealed the cradle, and when that dried, it was still straight. I am guessing that if a cradle is glued down early, the wood on the front has a chance to expand a little when sealed or painted, but the wood on the back does not, and the result is a bow to the front.

above: voids in core plies telegraphing through the birch face veneer


The best prospects I have found when it comes to homemade panels, taking into account quality & archival stability, price, weight, construction effort, and availability of materials, are as follows: 1. If you want a lightweight or thin panel and can put up with a little flexing in larger sizes, the 1/4 Dibond is the best bet. Small panels stay rigid, but at the 3 x 4 scale, there is some flexing, though this could be held in check by a frame. Dibond panels are the same on both sides, so can be painted on either side, unlike B/C plywood, which has a better side. Unlike plywood, since there is nothing to warp or absorb water, no cradle is necessary, and the surface stays quite flat. Keep in mind that there is an extra priming step to make the enamel surface bind with subsequent paint layers. Dibond can be dented, but that is a risk with almost any panel. Pay special care to the corners, for if they come in contact with another panel, the aluminum can scratch the surface. 2. If you want a more rigid panel and dont mind a little weight, 1/2 LusterBoard is a good option. With a 1/2 plywood core, there is no need for a cradle, at least up to 3 x 4. As with Dibond, either side can be the painted surface. Keep in mind that there is an extra priming step to make the enamel surface bind with subsequent paint layers. LusterBoard can be dented, but that is a risk with almost any panel. Pay special care to the corners, for if they come in contact with another panel, the aluminum can scratch the surface. 3. If you dont mind building a cradle (and cradles can be used as a presentation element, almost like a frame), 1/4 mdf (medium density fiberboard) core plywood, maple faces, with a 3/4 plywood on-edge cradle is a good choice. The mdf core gives good stability and reduces the chance of warping, and since the mdf core is flat, there are

no gaps or voids telescoping through to the face veneer. This keeps the surface quite flat. Remember to use a sealer/primer, like Safecoat Safe Seal for off-gassing and Kilz for stain-sealing, before gesso. One advantage to this choice is that, unlike Dibond and LusterBoard, mdf core plywood is a generic and does not rely on the survival of a single company. It also may be more broadly available. It seems that to avoid warping the panel, one should tape the edges of the back of the panel (to give a gluing surface for the cradle) and put on the Safecoat and primer (like Kliz), and on the front put on the Safecoat and primer (like Kliz) and one layer of gesso before gluing down the cradle. (This is because the primer is stickier than the gesso, so I have found that the clamps [or the protective strips] stick to the front of the panel and scar the surface if Kilz is the layer I clamp against; that also allows you to put down two more layers of gesso [at least] after the clamping is done, so any problems with the surface can be fixed.)

The best clamping situation I found was to set the panel face down on a flat table a little smaller than the panel (which would allow one to glue all for sides at once, if one had enough clamps; otherwise, any size table will work). I ripped and miter-cut strips of 3/4 birch plywood, then glued and clamped them with the plies at a right angle to the panel. (Lightweight clamps are best so that the panel doesnt bend under their weight.) There are scrap pieces of 1/4 plywood protecting the face of the panel at each clamp (and in this case, also a bit of newsprint).

Since the sides were not otherwise joined to each other, when all sides have been glued and dried I drilled a hole in each corner for a dowel, in order to peg the corners together. A little glue went into the hole, the dowel was tapped in, and the remainder cut off. (Fine brads could also be driven in across the corners from both sides, but this sometimes involves sharp pounding against the brittle glue; also, if for some reason one needs to sand or trim the sides later, it is better to cut through wood than metal.) Any cracks can be filled with wood putty.


A. Correcting a Warped Panel. I wanted to see if I could correct those panels I have already painted and which have revealed warps and bows. One panel in particular (1/2 warped birch plywood to be straightened with 1 x 3 fir cradle) with an underpainting of saber-toothed cat skulls, had a bad bow. If straightening worked, I could finish the painting; if not, nothing was lost in trying. I sanded the back (which had been sealed with urethane) in order to have wood meet wood for gluing. While the sanding was irregular and, because of the awkward angle pressing a panel against our belt sander, the cradle tipped outward a bit, but it almost completely straightened the panel (at least for now). This makes me think I would try the same process on a couple of finished panels, but instead of sanding the backs, I would router a shallow rabbet to glue the cradle into. Following up on the success of the saber-toothed cat panel, I used the router to shave a shallow rabbet (about the thickness of the face veneer) 3/4 of an inch all around the outer edge on the back of the T. rex with Parrot Tulip panel, a panel so warped that one corner pulled away from the wall when hung; it could not hang flat. I cut 1 3/4 strips of 3/4 birch plywood for a cradle, gluing and clamping it with the plies perpendicular to the panel, and mitering the corners. It was nearly a complete success,

with only the tiniest bow on one side. With the new cradle, this 3 x 4 panel weighed about 19 pounds. B. Golden Sandable Hard Gesso. The Golden acrylic company has a new product designed for rigid panels that takes sanding better than traditional acrylic gesso. It harkens back to the REAL traditional gesso, which was made with rabbit skin glue and a white like marble dust, gypsum, bone, calcium carbonate, or the like. Rabbitskin glue is water-soluble, so the acrylic version improves on that. The many layers of rabbitskinbased gesso were brittle, and this is apparently somewhat the case for this new gesso, as it is recommended for rigid supports only, to avoid cracking. Its advantage over regular acrylic gesso seems to be that it sands more easily (which the old gesso did, too, but this product would be much more convenient. That would be good, since getting a panel truly flat and without brush marks takes forever with regular gesso. (ALSO SEE COMMERCIALLY AVAILABLE PANELS, A. Ampersand) In addition to the Ampersand panel, I have also used the hard sandable gesso on one of the LusterBoard panels, c. 18 x 24, since these panels begin with a flat aluminum surface and the plywood core keeps the panel rigid. I hope I end up not liking to paint on such a surface because it is a real pain. The panel began with a layer of the Sherwin Williams DTM Bonding Primer, then three layers of acrylic gesso rolled on, then six layers of the hard sandable gesso brushed on. I began sanding with a 60 grit paper and found so many irregularities that I went back and squeegied two more layers on, to try to get them flatter. After beginning sanding again, I had to re-hit some areas where there were flaws. Then I went outside with a respirator and worked through layers with 60, 100, 220, 320, 400, and finally 600 grit with a sanding block. (The gesso really gums up sand paper.) When I finished, that panel felt like a Formica kitchen counter. There were still some imperfections, but the biggest problems were on the edges: Cutting the panel probably bent the aluminum slightly forward, so as I sanded, a shiny metal edge began to appear. That edge may also be why there were more flaws in the gesso near the edges. Then when I got to the 600 grit, the paper seemed to be picking up a little of the aluminum and making metallic streaks on the panel (which, after all, was now about the right surface for a metalpoint drawing). A frame should cover the edges, toning will obscure the streaks, and the scratches are to be expected in an early panel, but the whole process was so tedious and time consuming that it would be a shame if I end up liking the result. As with the Ampersand panel, toning on such a smooth surface wipes off easily, so I toned it more than once.

Of course any panel material will involve compromises because every material has its drawbacks. While I am enamored of plywood as a surface, it has some problems: It is known by many that wood, cardboard, adhesives, and other packaging and crating materials off-gas acidic vapors (formic acid, acetic acid, and aldehydes), which deteriorate stored items. Even very dry wood is problematic, and plywood is worse

because of the formaldehyde binding agent in adhesives. (Intercept Technology, selling barriers for archival storage.) This is an issue raised by Ralph Mayer in The Artists Handbook, the materials Bible for artists. A solution in Mayer is echoed by The Society of Tempera Painters ( ) Wood may also emit acidic gasses and it is recommended that the wood be primed with a glue and calcium carbonate ground to insulate the paint layer from acidic vapors. Further, that society has another complaint about plywood, as well as a suggested solution: PlywoodThough stable against warping and splitting, this material has a surface grain which is subject to raising which may cause fine cracking throughout the gesso. Many plywood panels are made from pine or fir which contain resin that prevents the gesso from adhering properly but those made from birch plywood are more suitable. Like all wood panels, plywood panels absorb and give moisture with resulting expansion and contraction. The movement occurs in every direction with plywood and there are numerous examples of paintings on plywood and virtually every one of them have eventually cracked. Early egg tempera painters reduced this risk by embedding a layer of thin fabric in their gesso ground and it does work. If you are using plywood or wood panels, apply an old well washed bed sheet to the panel first either with glue size or embedded in the first layer of glue gesso. The good news is that tempera painters are very sensitive to any movement in their supports, since tempera paint is quite brittle. Using an acrylic gesso (which is relatively flexible) should help, as does the fact that oil is somewhat more flexible than tempera. In regard to the acidic off-gassing, there are some products advertised as blocks for this: Safecoat Safe Seal is a multi-use, waterbased, low gloss sealer for highly porous surfaces such as particle board, plywood, processed wood and porous concrete. Used primarily to reduce toxic outgassing: in particular, it is highly effective at sealing in formaldehyde outgassing from processed wood such as plywood, particle board and pressed wood. Safecoat Safe Seal is virtually odorless on application and odorless once cured. (Product Description, American Formulating and Manufacturing, 3251 Third Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103; 619-239-0321; Finally, there is this: All wood species contain water-soluble materials (extractives) in varying amounts, which can create a staining problem when water-based light-colored finishes are applied to the bare wood. Western red cedar and redwood are two species most generally associated with extractive staining problems, but other species can also create them. Solutions: Either use a latex primer with an extractive-inhibiting ingredient, or use a solvent-based primer. (American Plywood Association Technical Note Number J305 Finishing Sanded Plywood, January 1984.) That is the reason I use Kilz primer on my panels. I use the acrylic version because it should bond better with the acrylic gesso. So far as the primer/sealer/gesso layers go, I use two thin layers of the Safecoat Safe Seal applied to the front with a brush with a light sanding, since tiny fibers of wood raised up from the surface are made rigid by the sealer; the sides and back can have a single coat. I then use three layers of the Kilz primer (the acrylic version) and three layers of gesso applied with a roller for smooth surfaces for the front. (The back can have a layer of Kilz and/or gesso to balance the pull on the panel.) I use Daniel Smith

acrylic gesso because it is a good viscosity right out of the can for using with a roller. Some sanding between layers doesnt hurt, especially if any small bumps appear from particles getting stuck in the gesso. The final layer should be sanded if a roller is used because the pebbly surface includes little peaks that are fragile; if they are painted over, but snap off later, tiny white spots appear in the painting. How much one sands is up to the individual, but if you want a really smooth surface, use a rigid panel and the Golden Sandable Hard Gesso mentioned above.


Descriptions are generally from the producers/distributors, though I have edited them some; my comments are in brackets. 1. Aluminum panels: A. Coated sheets of aluminum. Available in a wide variety of colors and sizes. Most painted sheets are color one side, white on the reverse side. Brite white sheets are painted with an acrylic paint while all other colors use a polyester paint. Alloy 3003/H14 [This would need some kind of backing, and it might make more sense just to buy aluminum panels with backing or a core, as below.] c. $17 for 36 x 48 @ .024 thickness* c. $46 for 36 x 48 @ .080 thickness* B. Dibond is an aluminum composite material (ACM) made of two pre-painted sheets of .012" aluminum with a solid polyethylene core. According to Alcan Composites USA Inc., its manufacturer, Dibond is the flattest panel on the market, is approximately one half the weight of aluminum, and even provides excellent durability in outdoor applications. It is available in thicknesses of 2mm, 3mm and 4mm; it comes in sheets of 4 ft. x 8 ft. and 4 ft. x 10 ft. [It looks very promising so far as maintaining a flat surface goes, but large panels would probably bow with their own weight somewhat. A frame should keep them flat. A bigger concern is how to make an aluminum surface receptive to paint. I have heard the following on those lines:] To make a paintable surface on the Dibond, here is input from the Golden Paints technical support staff: "We are very familiar with Dibond and have successfully worked with a lot of artists who have used it at this point. We have usually recommended Sherwin Williams' DTM Bonding Primer, which is engineered specifically for the type of baked-polyester finish Dibond comes with. After a suitable coat of a primer then you can simply continue on with the rest of our products." [Golden only makes acrylic paints, but that includes gesso, so anything normally painted on an acrylic gesso -- like acrylic or oil -- can be used.] [More Dibond information and sources] Dibond Impact & Fire Resistance - Dibond does not break like glass, asbestos panels or

other brittle products. It is resistant to blows and pressure and has a high buckling and breaking strength. Dibond has good fire resistant and can conform to a Class 'O' rating (BS 476) when the panels are framed. Dibond Lightweight - Extremely light, Dibond - 2mm thick has a specific weight of 2.9kg/square meter compared with 4.6kg/square meter for aluminium sheet 1.7mm thick. Dibond Rigid, Optically Flat Panels - Dibond panels consist of a core of low density polyethylene machine-bonded between two outer skins of aluminium. This balanced sandwich construction produces a very rigid yet optically-flat panel. Dibond Weatherproof - Dibond has been used in applications where it is exposed to maritime and severe industrial atmospheres and used to strong sunlight. Consistent with the surface finish selected, it is highly resistant to the effects of such environmental conditions. Dibond Good Temperature & Sound Resistance - Dibond absorbs vibration and has a low resonance response. The average airborne sound transmission loss of Dibond is approximately 21 decibels and as such is comparable with a 20mm thick plaster board or a heavy inside door. Temperature resistance ranges from minus 50C to plus 80C (55F to +176F). Dibond Easily Cleaned - Water and a sponge or soft brush are all that is required to clean Dibond. In cases of more severe contamination, alkali-free cleansing detergents may be added to the water. Dibond Fabrication - Dibond panels can be cut to size by sawing or shearing; more complicated shapes can be produced using a jig or band saw. Reverse side routing to produce a V groove enables Dibond to be folded into a whole range of shapes. A more detailed Dibond fabrication guide is available. $150.20 for 2mm 4 x 8 white/white 2mm 4x 8 white both side, five sheets $1,303.25; 3mm 4x 8 white both side, five sheets $1,477.75 (ALSO SEE COMMERCIALLY AVAILABLE PANELS G. New Traditions Art Panels) [Best price: $114.36 4mm 4 x 8 w/w. This price is interesting: The trick is to find a distributor. When I first went to the Harbor site, I found the shipping more than doubled the cost. (For one sheet of Dibond, 4 x 8 x 4mm @ $114.36, and one sheet of Lusterboard, 4 x 8 x 1/4 @105.36 from Harbor, the cost was $219.72, but the shipping and handling for this is $250.88 (and tax of $9.89), which more than doubles the apparent price.) Then I contacted a sign shop that sells Dibond and was willing to sell me a 3 x 4 panel for $325! I got in touch with Harbor, and they said they had a truck going through my town in Virginia, and that would be no shipping charge. That comes to:

c. $42.75 for a 36 x 48 sheet of 4mm Dibond, white/white. (For LusterBoard, see below.)] C. LusterBoard's hardwood core is a premium grade, rigid, exterior furnituregrade plywood with smooth, tight, sanded veneers for optimum surface beauty. LusterBoard panels have two finished, white (or painted color) aluminum surfaces. c. $40 for 36 x 48 D. Alumalite is a strong, aluminum composite panel with a high-density, corrugated polyallomer (CPA) core that will not swell, wick water, corrode, rot, or delaminate due to prolonged water exposure. The surface is .016-inch high-gloss painted aluminum. An aluminum surface is required on both sides for rigidity and to minimize warping. Alumalite features a factory baked acrylic-painted aluminum faces for high gloss brilliance and is warranted not to crack, chip, flake or peel. c. $37.50 for 36 x 48* E. D-Lite has a finished aluminum surface that wont crack, chip, flake or peel ... and a water insensitive, plastic core, making it perfect for your outdoor or UVexposed indoor applications. The core is a high-density, corrugated polyallomer (CPA), that will not swell, wick water, corrode, rot or delaminate. The finished surface is .012inch, high-gloss white aluminum on two sides, or with a light gauge aluminum backer. An aluminum surface is bonded to both sides to balance the board and maximize flatness. c. $37.50 for 36 x 48* 2. Canvas A. Utrecht 66J ultra-smooth single weave linen canvas. [Traditionally artists have worked on canvas, especially for large paintings when the weight of a panel would be prohibitive. Linen is the strongest and longest-lasting traditional artists canvas. Not only does it seem that the larger the panel, the heavier it gets and the more likely it is to go out of flat, but also if I want to create a very large image -- one that is over 4 in both directions, 4 being the widest panels commonly come -- I will need to work on linen. Linen has some disadvantages, though, especially for the way I work. First, even the ultra smooth linen has a texture, and glazes tend puddle in low areas; since glazes are transparent, these areas come off as darker. Second, because linen is not a rigid surface, one cannot bear down on the surface when making a transfer, or rest a hand on the surface when doing detail work. The texture also hampers both of these. (The rigidity problem can be overcome on a small scale by using linen mounted on panel, but that is obviously not a solution when it comes to large scale, nor does it solve the texture problem for me.)

(Art Panel, Inc. offers linen-covered panels up to 54 x 120, since they use a composite panel like MDF which they can get up to 5 x 10.) I have undertaken a portrait on a small scale with this linen to see it my technique will not be too greatly impeded, and it worked just fine.] c. $74 for 36 x 48 canvas using Dick Blick (the cheapest vendor for these) heavy duty stretcher bars and one cross brace (c. $32) and 42 x 54 piece of Utrecht 66J linen (c. $42). ( ( 3. Gatorfoam. Gatorfoam panels are a lightweight, man-made wood-polystyrene product that has an inert acidic content of 6.5~7.0 pHinert meaning they will not become more acidic over time. They are less acidic than hardboard. The panels are waterproof and handle all types of weather with ease. Whether youre in rain, snow, or in the heat, the panels hold up quite well. The standard panel is 3/16 thick or a 1/2 panel is used for sizes 18x24 and above. Further, Gatorfoam foam board is an extruded polystyrene foam board bonded between two layers of Luxcell wood-fiber veneer. New, bright white facer is the brightest foam board of its kind and good for digital and screenprinting.

Offers 5' x 10' large format capabilities. 3/16, 1/2, 3/4, 1, 1 1/2, 2 thicknesses. [While I saw this advertised in one source as a great product for artists, after research it became apparent that this is just a fancy form of FoamCor Board, used for mounting displays and lightweight signs, but not really a substantial painting support.] 4. Hardboard, or HDF (High Density Fiberboard, ex. Masonite) According to the Ampersand website (, in the 40s and 50s, tempered hardboard was made by immersing the panels in dipping tanks of tung or linseed oil to harden them, leaving an oily residue that caused adhesion problems for artists. Untempered boards also had problems with chipping and fraying, which made conservators leery of paintings done on these now outdated hardboards. Over 20 years ago, the high cost of tung and linseed oil forced U.S. manufacturers to change the way they manufacture hardboard. Todays U.S. hardboard is made differently and does not have the characteristics of the old hardboard. [I have experienced the chipping and fraying, as well as some adhesion problems. Apparently Ampersand has avoided much of this by using an improved hardboard, which employs hardwood fiber and avoids the excess use of tung oil. This may be the case, but I am a little wary of the product, and since not all producers maintain the same high standard of Ampersands source, hardboards are not all the same. Unfortunately, it appears Ampersand does not offer panels larger than about 30.] Ampersand also includes the following on their site: All wood surfaces should be sealed with a good primer before gessoing or painting on them. Unlike hardboard that has been processed and reconstructed, plywood and other solid wood panels still have their cell structure intact

and the harmful lignins and wood tannins could affect a painting if not sealed correctly. Ampersand recommends using Goldens Acrylic GAC 100 to seal panels for water-based painting and the Gamblin's Oil Painting Ground for use with oil paints. Ampersands Hardbord can be primed using these products or try one of the already sealed and coated panels.
5. Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) is a dry-process type fiberboard panel with a density below that of HDF and hardboard. This lower density makes MDF the most warp-resistant wood panel available. Unlike the very dense hardboard fiberboards, fibers in MDF panels have the necessary room within the internal structure of the board to expand (from moisture or heat) without distorting the panel. [?] While this lower density gives MDF somewhat less structural strength than other fiber boards, it is still very hard and strong, and more than adequate in that regard for use as an artist panel, for which it is very well suited. MDF and HDF are very similar panels and share most of the same qualities; they tend to differ only by a small amount in density. The manufacturing process of these products usually results in the thinner panels having slightly higher densities. Panels of a half inch or more are generally MDF; panels of a quarter inch or less usually fall into the category of HDF, though these are generally called "thin MDF" (TMDF) since the public is more familiar with the term "MDF' than "HDF'. [Despite the praise of MDF above, offered by a company offering panels made if it, I am skeptical. Sandy (my wife) worked with MDF and acquired asthma from cutting the board. It swelled when wet, and wasnt that strong when looking at thin sheets (c. 1/2) of any moderate size. Corners crumble, too. The panels this producer makes are sealed with urethane, with a baked-on white urethane primer/ground, which is unusual. Larger panels involve an MDF/balsa wood/MDF sandwichboard with an unusual construction: end-grain balsa.] Balsa wood timbers are sliced like bread; then the slices are laid edge-to-edge to form sheets. In this configuration, the wood fibers align to form a natural micro-honeycomb structure. Panels made with these balsa cores can be sealed very effectively, since none of the end grain of the wood is exposed on the edges of the panel. (SEE COMMERCIALLY AVAILABLE PANELS, B. HUDSON HIGHLAND

6. Medium Density Overlay (MDO) Plywood. [I received a PDF file from the information officer at the American Plywood Association telling about a plywood product that has an overlay of medium density fiberboard (sort of like Masonite or hardboard) and is supposedly used by sign painters. According to the PDF, the MDO surface may be specified on the face only or on the face and the back. This is important because a sign painter might paint on both sides and keep the panel rigid with a frame around the edge; I would be looking to paint on one side and adhere a cradle to the back. When I have glued cradles to medium density fiberboard in the past, the glue sticks the cradle to the fibers on the surface of the panel, but those fibers are not tightly bound to the panel; a sharp shock to the panel can separate those fibers from the panel (delamination), and the cradle comes off. If, however, one

can get the MDO on the face only, the back will be a plywood surface that should hold the cradle. Its other advantages may include that the surface would be smooth, with no grain, but designed to take paint, and that the corners might be less apt to splinter (like a hardwood veneer can) or crumble (like a fiberboard can). An email I sent to a professional sign painter said that this stuff is all there is for sign painters (which I take it is an endorsement). I later ran into a website ( hosted by a company which sells artists panels and which has opinions about various potential panel materials. MDOs resin-treated fiber overlay (as the PDF described it) is dismissed by the Hudson Highland site as being usually made of plywood, coated with outer layers of resinimpregnated Kraft paperBecause of the impermanent nature of the Kraft papers used, MDO is not considered a suitable material for use in permanent artworks. This may be very good advice, though the Hudson site has no sources indicated in its extensive commentary,] 7. Plastics A. ABS panel. Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or ABS, is a common thermoplastic. (SEE COMMERCIALLY AVAILABLE PANELS C. Realgesso B. Acrylic sheets. Produced from a methyl methacrylate monomer and have outstanding physical, mechanical, optical, chemical resistant, and thermal properties. G Grade (cast acrylic) material provides UV light absorbing properties for outdoor exposure, and excellent machining properties. ( [The preceding quote is from Harbor. A chemist friend says no to this material: Ammonia and others solvents begin to cloud and soften it, and it cracks easily.] c. $45 for 36 x 48 @ 1/4 C. Makrolon Polycarbonate A polycarbonate sheet that is 30 times stronger than acrylic, and is great for use in high traffic areas where breakage is a concern. Maintains its impact strength at low temperatures and can be fabricated using a variety of woodworking tools. ( [The preceding quote is from Harbor. A chemist friend says this material has problems with chemical bases] D. Polyvinyl polymer panels: [The length of this entry does not imply an endorsement; I felt that since this is non-traditional surface being marketed specifically for artists, I would include the makers extensive description.] Solid Ground panels are hand crafted, made-to-order art panels, available in versions for painting or pastel. They differ markedly from older panels, both in materials and basic structure. Unlike traditional paint or pastel supports, they are made entirely of durable and stable polyvinyl polymer resins, blended with fine quality pigments. Solid Ground panels, as their name suggests, are not coated or layered in any way. Rather, each panel is made as one

solid piece. Rigid and self-supporting, they consist of solid ground through and through. Support and ground are one. No priming is necessary. Color is applied directly to the support, giving your artwork an inherently sound and fundamentally simpler foundation. Solid Ground panels are exceptionally durable. They are nonporous and waterproof. And although they have a feeling of absorbency (as color is drawn tightly into the micro-texture of their surfaces), they are non-absorbent, and were designed that way for several reasons. Solid Ground panels are uniquely designed to address problems of acidity. Deterioration of artworks can often be traced to acidic contents in artist materials. Solid Ground panels, by virtue of being non acidic, non-absorbent and free of layers, eliminate these problems completely. Unaffected by moisture, Solid Ground panels do not expand and contract with changes in humidity. They have superior dimensional stability. They are extremely resistant to warpage, swelling, splitting, and embrittlement. Solid Ground panels are chemically stable as well. They exhibit no chemical off-gassing. They are nonacidic and are internally buffered (with calcium carbonate as one of their pigments) to keep them that way. They are unaffected by weak and moderate acids and bases, as well as by all standard art studio solvents. Polyvinyl resins have properties which make them particularly well suited for use in art panels. While they are not chemically reactive, they are extremely chemically receptive to artist colors. The molecular structure of polyvinyl polymers makes paint and pastels want to stick to them. [?]... Polyvinyl resins also give Solid Ground panels a perfect surface hardness; they are quite strong, but are still malleable enough to be able to accept the abrasive finishing procedures which are used to give them their uniquely receptive surface textures. Many familiar household products made from polyvinyl plastic are easily damaged by UV radiation, and by internal degradation caused by the presence of chemical plasticizers. Solid Ground on the other hand, contains only plastic which is extremely durable and stable. By design, Solid Ground panels contain an exceptionally high concentration of Titanium Dioxide. This very effectively shields them from UV exposure, giving them excellent lightfastness properties and preventing UV damage to the polymers. (Lightfastness of the pastel panels differs somewhat by color; please inquire for details.) Solid Ground also contains no chemical plasticizers, since these materials can also degrade and migrate out of the plastics, and make them sticky or brittle, we've taken care to avoid their use altogether. Solid Ground Surface Properties...While intermolecular attraction plays a role in paint-to-panel adhesion, an actual physical grip, or "mechanical bonding, is the most important factor in the bonding of color to Solid Ground. From the smoothest grade of Artist Panel to the coarsest grade Pastel Panel, the panel surface is actually a dense, complex network of tiny fissures. Although sometimes almost imperceptibly small, these fissures can be seen as quite sharp and deep when viewed under magnification. Colors are drawn into this matrix and held fast. The panel surfaces also have a fine, fibrous nap, with tiny silk-like fibers protruding from them. These fibers become imbedded in the color layer, further reinforcing its bond with the panel. Plastic, as a painting surface for artists, has quite a track record. Artists have been painting on plastic surfaces for half a century. In fact, for many decades now, the large majority of paintings made by artists have been painted on acrylic gesso. Polymer gesso coatings have generally held up very well over the decades, although they are not the

ideal primer in all situations. They can often be rather permeable, allowing oil to soak through to the canvas. And depending on how they are formulated, applied, and prepared, they can often be rather slippery and provide a less-than-ideal bonding surface for some paints. Plastic panels are physically strong. They eliminate the dangers of "delamination" the eventual separation or chipping away of the primer from its support. Although the easiest and neatest way to get Solid Ground panels in the exact sizes that you want is simply to order them that way, it is not difficult to cut them yourself. Most any kind of power saw can give very good results. Radial-type saws (table saws, radial arm saws, miter saws) work best, but jig saws and band saws work fine as well. Use a relatively fine-toothed blade (types made for plywood are usually about right). A circular "hollow-ground" plywood blade is ideal if you can find it. Using a blade with teeth that are too big (or too few) will give a chipped edge. Teeth that are too fine (like a blade made for metal) will tend to burn or melt the edge, as will too slow forward progress of the cut. However you do the cutting, always start by taping a piece of corrugated cardboard (cut to the same size as the panel) over the face of the panel to protect it from scratches and abuse. When cutting, cut through the panel and the cardboard at the same time. After cutting, you can clean up the edges nicely with sand paper. Like virtually any material, Solid Ground panels will expand and contract with changes in temperature, and the greater the temperature change and the larger the overall size, the greater will be the total size change. The rate of change is similar to most hardwoods (actually just a slight bit less). Unlike wood, the change is almost even across the length and width as there is no significant "grain" to the panel. When framing a very large panel, potential differences in the expansion / contraction rates of the panel and the framing material should be taken into consideration, and adequate leeway should be given, especially where the installation may be subject to significant temperature fluctuations. Solid Ground panels do not expand and contract with changes in humidity, as wood does, but extensive swelling of a wooden frame due to humidity could still apply unwanted stress. Mounting and Bracing Solid GroundTM Panels: Although quite rigid, they are not completely so; a certain degree of flexibility (more evident in 1/4"panels and in larger sizes) actually gives them the adaptability and "memory" to remain flat, or to return to a flat condition after the stresses are relieved. From the panelmakers [sic] point of view (or a conservator's) we would like to see the panels supported by nothing more than a strong picture frame. In the real world, of course, this is often unrealistic. Mounting / bracing usually involves gluing wooden strips to the rear of the panels, although other possibilities involve using aluminum or plastic bracing, or mounting our panels on to wood or plastic sheets (size and weight allowing). Since the backs of the panels are generally quite slick, it will be necessary to roughen the backs with sandpaper at the points of contact in order to achieve a sufficient grip for the adhesive to gain a good bond. Adhesives used for bonding must be flexible. Since the panel and the materials used to brace it will likely have different rates of expansion and contraction, any adhesive that is brittle upon drying will likely pop off of the panel or the brace. Adhesives which dry to a flexible consistency allow for differences in dimensional changes, and allow the panels and bracing materials to slide against each other if subjected to slight flexure.

Adhesive caulking materials. Two types that work are pure silicone caulking, and siliconized acrylic latex caulking. These usually come in the form of caulking tubes and can be purchased at a hardware store (G. E. 100% Silicone Caulking and Alec Acrylic Latex Caulk With Silicone are two common brands; Elmers Squeeze-N-Caulk is an acrylic latex that comes in a regular glue-type bottle). The Siliconized Acrylics give a stronger bond and many can be painted over. Pure Silicone types give a weaker bond that is, however, more easily reversible. Silicone has the advantage of being very neat in that any overgluing can be cleaned easily by simply rubbing it off Wood is the most commonly used bracing material. For an extremely durable method, two of my customers have had great results using square (or rectangular) aluminum tubing to brace the panels. Drilling conical shaped holes through the mounting material before it is glued on (such that the narrower end of the hole points toward the wall) provides a hole with a small lip to catch a nail or screw head. When bracing the edges of the panel for hanging purposes, putting the hang-holes in the vertical braces rather than the top horizontal brace distributes the weight and stress better. (SEE COMMERCIALLY AVAILABLE PANELS, B. HUDSON HIGHLAND

$138.24 for 36 x 48 panel

E. Rigid High Density Urethane Foam. A rigid high density urethane (Signfoam3) material which is not affected by solvents, can be finished using all sign paints including lacquers, is completely waterproof, and can be fabricated with standard woodworking tools. ( This quote is from Harbor.] c. $65 for 36 x 48 @ 1/2


There are some good commercial producers of panels out there, most based on high-grade plywood faces. A few of these places are made-to-order, so there is some lead-time required. I have tried to get a price for a standard size panel (36 x 48 cradled) for comparison, though it must be kept in mind this does not include shipping. Descriptions are generally from the company, though I have edited them some; my observations are in brackets. Just looking at their products gives me ideas about how to design my own, and the price comparison (all well over $100) is an incentive to build my own. A. Ampersand Hardboard is the finest pressed wood panel available anywhere. Made in the U.S.

from quality hardwoods, this panel resists warping and moisture penetration. Hardboard accepts all types of commercial and handmade gesso grounds. Complete priming instructions inside product labeling. Available 1/8" flat, 1/4" flat, cradled with 3/4" strips or with the new 2" DEEP cradle. [These panels seem not to go very large, perhaps no more than 24 x 36 or 30 x30. They also have something called Gessoboard, which is the hardboard with an acrylic gesso. The 3/4 or 2 cradles with birch plywood run the plies vertically, at a right angle to the picture plane. I bought an 8 x 10 unfinished panel with the 2 deep cradle to check on the construction. The plywood of the cradle has even plies and looks like it alone would make a good painting surface. When I sealed the hardboard with a layer of Safe Seal, it sat mostly on the surface, indicating the presence of some water-repellant binder or sealer. Next came three layers of Kilz, then three of acrylic gesso and about six of hard sandable gesso using a foam brush. I decided to use the sandable gesso for several reasons: This panel is small and very rigid (the sandable gesso requires a rigid surface), the hardboard is quite smooth (which should help on sanding to a smooth surface), and since it is small, it will take less effort to get down to a truly smooth ground. I sanded the panel down to 400-grit emery, and while there were still some scratches visible in a strong raking light, the surface was as smooth as plastic. Toning it was tricky because the toning tended to wipe off (and the scratches showed some), but I decided to do more than one toning.] B. Art Boards [They have several products, the most interesting to me being cradled maple veneer plywood panels. They use 1/2 plywood with 5 plies. Three internal plies are made of aspen, and the two faces are maple veneer, all held together with waterproof glue. The cradle is made from strips of the same plywood. [They work with excellent materials, which may reduce the problems, but the price (a 3 x 4 cradled panel is about $190) and the worry over damage in shipping make me want to make my own, if possible. I have to admit that it also seems curious to cradle 1/2 plywood with 1/2 plywood; I have found a 1/4 plywood panel apparently strong enough to pull a 3/4 plywood cradle out of true when the plys in the cradle are parallel to the panel, as is done here. Art Boards, Inc. also says they have some new materials which are very light, with balsa wood somewhere in the construction. It is nice to know that such things are out there, if you have the money. They additionally have something called a Natural Fiber Art Panel. This is a MDF board variation.] The Natural Fiber Art Panel is 3/8 thick. It has an ultra-smooth surface with no wood grain. It is made using a process that combines pure wood from Douglas Fir trees with urethane binders, producing a painting panel that is double refined with no oils or resins. Art Boards Natural Fiber Art Panel is NOT tempered Masonite or tempered hardboard. Custom Sizes Available Cradled and Uncradled as large as 60" x 120".

$190.00 price for 36 x 48 panel, 1/2 maple plywood (aspen core) with 12 maple plywood cradle (aspen core); Art Boards C. Hudson Highland 1. $138.24 price for 36 x 48. Solid Ground Polyvinyl resins panel, no cradle; Hudson Highland. 2. Primewood Panels Prices not currently available on the site. D. John Annesley Company All of our cradled panels have 3-ply faces. The first two layers are mahogany, the top face is your choice of birch or mahogany. Each birch face painting panel is spliced using the bookend match technique. Birch is considered to be a very seductive surface to paint on with its very tight grain and swirly grain patterns. Each mahogany face painting panel is from rotary cut, endless core wood, that means it's a continuous piece with no splices. Mahogany is an open grain, insect resistant wood, that provides a bit of texture to capture the paint. Our standard cradled panel thicknesses are: 5/8", 7/8", 1-7/8", 2-5/8" Available in any dimension, tiny to huge! Uses basswood for cradle. [I contacted John and found that, as I suspected, their truly large panels -- those over the standard size for plywood sheets) are pieced. He indicates the piecing is visible but cannot be felt; still, his recommendation for these larger panels is to stretch canvas over them.] $176.26 for 36 x 48 Thin Wraparound Panels, (P3) 1-7/8" deep, with crossbrace in cradle. $221.01 for 36 x 48 Thick Panels, (P4) 2-5/8" deep E. New Traditions Art Panels Baltic Birch Panels. We are now offering our linens mounted on 1/8 and 1/4 Baltic Birch. We seal the back of the panels with Polyurethane. This seals the wood from moisture and minimizes warping (wood still has the tendency to warp). [These seem to be linen panels. They also carry Dibond panels, though they, too, may be linen panels with Dibond supports. Further, they carry something calls multimedia panels, which sound like a glorified canvas board.] Multimedia Panels. Linens are available on multimedia nonbuckle board. This product is a blend of paper pulp and thermal set resin that is acid free and neutral pH and will not yellow or deteriorate. This art board is versatile enough to be

painted upon with nearly any media. This board comes in only 1/32 thick, which makes them the panel of choice when traveling since they are extremely lightweight and easy to pack. Multi Media can be mounted on a backing board for framing. These are a custom item and not stocked in inventory. Multi media can also be painted on directly without linens. F. Pictors Our beautiful panels are made using only the finest materials and methods. And please note that they are composed entirely of wood and glue. A significant component in our panels is the mortise and tenon joinery of the supports, in which a protruding piece of wood (tenon) on one joint end fits securely into a hole (mortise) on the other. This method produces one of the strongest joints used in woodworking. 1/4" Baltic Birch, aka Russian Birch, is a high-density plywood used for the face of our panels, chosen for its strength, durability, and resistance to warping. It is composed of five plies of flawless hardwood laminations, so it is free of voids in its internal layers, which makes it stronger and more warp-resistant than the average three plies seen in most other kinds of 1/4 plywood. Supports are constructed of kiln-dried Poplar and Douglas Fir, which were chosen for their strength-to-weight ratio, durability, and resistance to warping. Each piece is hand-selected for their straightness and appearance. Note: All wood is porous and can therefore be affected by seasonal changes and environmental variables. Pictors recommends all panels be properly sealed, prior to use, in order to resist against inevitable environmental factors that affect the structural stability and surface of wood products. $ 128.37 for 36 x 48 panel. G. RayMar Plein Aire Panels 1/8 hardboard, ph neutral adhesive, melamine (melamine is a resin, chemically C3H6N6) impregnated backing, covered with linen or cotton canvas. Sold in 10 packs (18 x 24 linen single prime is $238.28/ canvas is 99.28) Sample pack for $17. They sponsor a prized competition for realist images on their panels. [These also seem not to go large, the biggest I could find being 18 x 24; they also are canvas and linen panels, not plain, flat panels.] We use Claessen's #15 100% Belgium linen exclusively for oil paint. The medium texture, medium weight linen is a favorite of professional artists for its irregular weave and 0% absorbency. It is suitable for portrait, landscape and modern work with brush or palette knife application. Double Oil Primed Linen comes with an additional coating of titanium white for the artist seeking an ultra smooth surface. Single Oil Primed Linen is sized twice with a zinc white primer bound with linseed oil

and a top coating of titanium white oil paint. Cotton: Our smooth texture is a medium weight polyflax/cotton blend with an ultra smooth surface. It is triple acrylic primed for oil or acrylic paint. Creating minimal absorbency, this triple coating provides an ideal surface for portrait and fine detail painting. Our smooth texture canvas permits more paint manipulation and produces a translucent effect similar to oil primed linen. Medium weight canvas is 100% cotton duck with a uniform medium texture. It is coated with a double acrylic acid-free priming for oil or acrylic paint. Designed for landscape painting, the absorbent texture grabs the paint for an opaque effect and also works well with water-based oil paint. H. Realgesso For sizes above 24x36, please call for product shipping and price. 706-2272921 [Hardboard panels, available with an interesting traditional cradle.] These hand-crafted art panels are made from a traditional gesso recipe specially formulated from crushed marble, rabbitskin glue and high- quality titanium pigments. Several thick coats of this gesso are applied to a dimensionallystable 1/4" premium hardboard. Our precision- engineered "floating" cradle design provides the perfect support for both the Realgesso and ABS art panels. Using precise joinery and a unique method for adhering, these cradles prevents them from "telegraphing" their shape through the panel. The hardwood-backed ABS panel has the added feature of being laminated to dimensionally stable, furniture-grade, hardwood laminate. (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or ABS, is a common thermoplastic.) I. Rodney Thompson custom panels Prices are representative for 3/4" maple cradle with 1/4" Baltic birch panel up to 2 in depth. Maple panels (maple veneer on mdf core) also available for additional charge. Panels are made to order, so there is some lead-time. [They have an interesting bracing system from behind.] Standard cradle is plywood with vertical plies, but others are available. The standard cradled panel is built with domestic, furniture grade, 3/4" white maple plywood, mitered for the cradle frame. The standard panel is a 1/4" Baltic Birch plywood panel with its distinctive 5-ply banding. Also available is 1/4" A-1 domestic maple veneer on an MDF core. $150.00 for 36 x 48 for 3/4" maple cradle with 1/4" Baltic birch panel

Course outline: Preventive Conservation

(Prepared by Prof. Dr. Ziad al-Saad)

Basic definition Preventive Conservation is the mitigation of deterioration and damage to cultural property through the formulation and implementation of policies and procedures for the following: appropriate environmental conditions; handling and maintenance procedures for storage, exhibition, packing, transport, and use; integrated pest management; emergency preparedness and response; and reformatting/duplication. Preventive conservation is an ongoing process that continues throughout the life of cultural property, and does not end with interventive treatment. A. RATIONALE To extend the life of cultural property. To reduce the risk of catastrophic loss of cultural property. To defer, reduce, or eliminate the need for interventive treatment. To extend the effectiveness of interventive treatment. To provide a cost-effective method for the preservation of collections. To maximize impact of the conservation professional. To encourage the conservation professional to employ the broadest range of preservation strategies (e.g., risk management, long-range planning, site protection). To encourage the conservation professional to collaborate with others who have responsibility for the care of collections and cultural property (e.g., security and fire prevention personnel, facilities or site managers, collections managers, maintenance staffs). To encourage the participation of others in the preservation of cultural property.

The purpose of the course is to discuss and practice the risk management approach to conservation of collections. Risk management can be understood not only as the management of rare catastrophes, but also as the management of slow continual hazards, and everything between. It becomes an integrated view of all expected damages and losses to collections. The course will review the risk management concept and its various current interpretations and applications in the field of cultural heritage. Participants will be introduced to a practical method to carry out a risk assessment survey for collections in museums. By the end of the course participants should be able to : 1- identify all agents of deterioration; 2-identify risk types; 3-estimate magnitudes of risks; 4-rank their relative importance; 5-Implement consistent environmental monitoring for temperature, relative humidity, and light levels in storage, exhibit, and work-processing areas. 6. Implement An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program throughout the building in public, staff, and collection storage and exhibit areas.

7. Develop policies and guidelines for the safe handling, exhibition, storage, and research use of cultural objects. 8- Evaluate the relative costs, benefits and collateral risks of implementing the proposed mitigation measures.

Objective By the end of the course, participants will be able to put into application the proper preventive conservation measures to safeguard collections under their custody. Participants The course is designed for collection managers, museum curators, museum technicians, and conservators. The course will also interest educators and professionals who teach collection management and preventive conservation, in either an academic or a vocational environment.

Course Materials Table of Contents Chapter 1: Preventive Conservation Getting Started 1.1-Overview 1.2-What is preventive conservation? 1-3- Rationale of Preventive Conservation 1-4-How Preventive Conservation is practiced? 1-5- Recommended Practice 1.6-What are the Agents of Deterioration that should be Controlled in Preventive Conservation? 1.7- What is conservation treatment? 1-8-Who is responsible for preventive conservation? 1-9-How Preventive Conservation is Generally Carried Out? Chapter 2: Preventive Conservation in Museums 2-1- What information will I find in this chapter? 2-2-. What is the Critical Eye? 2-3-What Kinds of Materials Will I Find in a Museum Collection? 2-4-What is Deterioration? 2.5-What is Inherent Vice? 2.6-Why is it important to understand the environmental agents of deterioration and how to monitor them? 2.6.1-. Temperature 2.6.2- Relative Humidity 2.7- Monitoring and Controlling Temperature and Relative Humidity 2.7.1. Why should I monitor temperature and relative humidity? 2.7.2-What kind of monitoring equipment should I have? 2.7.3-. How do I read a hygrothermograph chart or datalogger graph? 2.7.4-. How do I use the hygrothermograph or datalogger data? 2.7.5-How do I organize and summarize the data from my hygrothermograph charts or datalogger graphs? 2.7.6-. How do I summarize longterm data? 2.7.7-. How do I control temperature and relative humidity? 2.8 -Using Silica Gel in Microenvironments 2.8.1-Types of Silica Gel 2.8.2-Requirements for Using Silica Gel 6 7 7 7 8 9 9 10 11 11 14 15 15 16 17 19 19 20 21 25 25 26 28 29 29 29 31 33 33

2.8.3-Calculating the Amount of Gel Required 2.8.4-Monitoring the Microenvironment 2.8.5-How to Make Silica Gel Containers 2.8.6-Conditioning Silica Gel 2.8.7Conditioning and Re-conditioning Techniques 2.9-Active methods of control. 2.9.1- What are humidistatically controlled heating and ventilation systems? 2.10-Light 2.10.1. What is light? 2.10.2. What are the standards for visible light levels? 2.11- Monitoring and Controlling Light 2.11.1. How do I monitor light levels? 2.11.2- Is there any way to directly monitor light damage? 2.11.3-. How do I control light levels? 2.11.4-Choosing UV-Filtering Window Films 2.12. Dust and Gaseous Air Pollution 2.12.1.What are particulate air pollutants? 2.12.2-What are gaseous air pollutants? 2.13-. Monitoring and Controlling Particulate and Gaseous Air Pollution 2.13.1-How do I monitor air pollution? 2.13.2-Are there ways to monitor for air pollution? 2.13.3-How do I control air pollution? Chapter 3: Prevention of Biological Infestations 3.1- What information will I find in this chapter? 3.2-What are museum pests? 3.3- What do I do if I find live pests in the museum? 3.4. Identification of Museum Pests 3.4.1. What are fabric pests? 3.4.2. What are wood pests? 3.4.3. What are moisture pests? 3.4.4. What are general pests (perimeter invaders)? 3.5- Integrated Pest Management (IPM) 3.5.1. What is Integrated Pest Management? 3.5.2. Why should I use IPM? 3.5.3. What types of damage can pesticides do to museum objects? 3.5.4. What are the components of an IPM Program? 3.6. Monitoring 3.6.1. Why should I monitor for pests and monitor the environment? 3.6.2. How do I know where to monitor? 3.6.3. What does pest damage look like? 3.6.4. How do I monitor for pests? 3.6.5. What kinds of traps should I use? 3.6.6. What actions should I take to keep pests out? 3.6.7. How do I know when I have a problem and must take some action? 3.6.8. How do I know if the IPM strategy is effective? 3.7.-Controlling Insect Pests: Alternatives To Pesticides 3.8-Temperature Treatments 3.8.1-Low temperature. 3.8.2-Heating. 3.8.3-Modified Atmosphere Treatments 3.8.4-Anoxia. 3.8.5-Carbon dioxide. 3.8.6-Other gases

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3.9-Prevention Of Microorganism Growth In Museum Collections 3.9.1-The Microorganisms 3.9.2-Damage 3.9.3-Detection 3.9.4-Prevention

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1-1- Overview This chapter will introduce you to the basic concept and methods of preventive conservation of cultural heritage in its broad sense. This includes museum objects, specimens and archival collections as well as cultural sites. This chapter will give you information on: Preventive care and treatment for museum collections How to plan for object conservation The role of a collection management plan (CMP) in conservation planning The role of a collection condition survey (CCS) in conservation planning Balancing preservation of historic structures and museum objects 1-2-What is preventive conservation? Preventive Conservation is the mitigation of deterioration and damage to cultural property through the formulation and implementation of policies and procedures for the following: appropriate environmental conditions; handling and maintenance procedures for storage, exhibition, packing, transport, and use; integrated pest management and emergency preparedness and response. Preventive conservation is an ongoing process that continues throughout the life of cultural property, and does not end with interventive treatment. By using preventive conservation techniques, you can limit the imperceptible deterioration that occurs on a daily basis (but is cumulative over time) and the catastrophic damage that occurs occasionally. Only when preventive care techniques are not implemented or objects are inherently unstable, is conservation treatment necessary. 1-3- Rationale of Preventive Conservation To extend the life of cultural property. To reduce the risk of catastrophic loss of cultural property. To defer, reduce, or eliminate the need for interventive treatment. To extend the effectiveness of interventive treatment. To provide a cost-effective method for the preservation of collections. To maximize impact of the conservation professional. To encourage the conservation professional to employ the broadest range of preservation strategies (e.g., risk management, long-range planning, site protection). To encourage the conservation professional to collaborate with others who have responsibility for the care of collections and cultural property (e.g., security and fire prevention personnel, facilities or site managers, collections managers, maintenance staffs). To encourage the participation of others in the preservation of cultural property.

1-4-How Preventive Conservation is practiced? Before considering interventive treatment, the conservator must consider whether preventive conservation options are more appropriate. In the process of developing and implementing preventive conservation, the conservation professional must collaborate with appropriate personnel. Before making recommendations for preventive conservation measures, the conservation professional must be conversant with the preservation-related conditions (e.g., temperature, relative humidity, pests, light, pollutants, housing materials) in which the cultural property or collection currently exists. Because many preventive conservation actions are carried out by others, the conservation professional must be responsible for setting the standards under which these measures are carried out and for periodically reviewing their implementation. These standards must be in writing. The conservation professional must employ or recommend only those preventive conservation measures that are currently accepted practice in the profession. 1-5- Recommended Practice Recommendations for preventive conservation should be in written form and supported by illustrative material where appropriate (format and level of detail may vary). These should specify: o Methods, procedures, and suitable materials; o Personnel requirements and qualifications (e.g., for in-house staff, contractor, volunteer). Following treatment, recommendations for preventive conservation measures should be included in the treatment report. The conservation professional should participate in the education and training of others involved in preventive conservation. 1.6-What are the Agents of Deterioration that should be Controlled in Preventive Conservation? The agents of deterioration are forces that act upon objects causing chemical and physical damage. The agents of deterioration can be classified as: Direct physical forces, such as shock, vibration, and abrasion that can break, distort, puncture, dent, and scratch all types of objects. These forces may be cumulative, such as improper handling or support or catastrophic, such as earthquake, war, or shelf collapse. Thieves, vandals, or careless individuals who misplace objects. Some of these agents are intentional, such as criminals who steal or disfigure objects. Others are unintentional, such as staff or users who misfile objects. Fire that destroys, scorches, or deposits smoke on all types of objects. Water that causes efflorescence in porous materials, swells organic materials, corrodes metals, delaminates and/or buckles layered components, and loosens joined components. Pests, such as insects that consume, perforate, cut, graze, tunnel and/or excrete which destroys, weakens, disfigures, or etches organic materials. Pests also include vermin such as birds and other animals that gnaw organic materials and displace small objects, foul objects with feces and urine and mold and microbes that weaken or stain objects. Contaminants that disintegrate, discolor, or corrode all types of objects, especially reactive and porous materials. This includes gases (such as pollution, oxygen), liquids (such as plasticizers, grease), and solids (such as dust, salt). Radiation, including both ultraviolet radiation and visible light. Ultraviolet radiation disintegrates, fades, darkens, and/or yellows the outer layer of organic materials and some colored inorganic materials. Unnecessary visible light fades or darkens the outer layer of paints and wood.

Incorrect temperature that can be too high causing gradual disintegration or discoloration of organic materials; too low causing embrittlement, which results in fractures of paints and other polymers; or fluctuating causing fractures and delamination in brittle, solid materials. Fluctuations in temperature also cause fluctuations in RH. Incorrect relative humidity that can be damp (over 65% RH), causing mold and corrosion, or above or below a critical value, hydrating or dehydrating some minerals and corroding metals that contain salts. Organic materials will gradually disintegrate and discolor, especially materials that are chemically unstable at any RH level above 0%. Fluctuating RH will shrink and swell unconstrained organic materials, crush or fracture constrained organic materials, cause layered organic materials to delaminate and/or buckle, and loosen joints in organic components. Most objects are affected by a variety of these agents of deterioration at the same time. As you improve preventive care of your collections, you will be addressing each of the agents of deterioration through a variety of policies and procedures. 1-7- What is conservation treatment? Conservation treatment is the deliberate alteration of the chemical and/or physical aspects of an item from a museum collection, in order to prolong the items existence. Treatment may consist of stabilization and/or restoration. Stabilization consists of those treatment procedures applied to maintain the integrity of a museum object and to minimize further deterioration. For example, when a conservator washes paper, the washing removes acidic by-products of deterioration. This is a method of stabilization. Restoration consists of those treatment procedures intended to return cultural property to a known or assumed state, often through the addition of non-original material. For example, to restore a broken ceramic pot a conservator might glue broken pieces together and fill the losses with plaster. You should consider conservation treatment in the following cases: when preventive care measures are not enough to reduce the rate of deterioration to a tolerable level, such as deteriorating plastic objects when deterioration has proceeded to a point where the object is extremely fragile and is in danger in any circumstances, such as when paint is flaking from a picture when stabilization or restoration is required for exhibit when stabilization or restoration is required for research Conservation treatment should be kept to a minimum. This approach reduces the chances of compromising the aesthetic, archeological, cultural, historical, physical, religious, or scientific integrity of objects. 1-8-Who is responsible for preventive conservation? Preventive conservation is the responsibility of everyone who works in and around museum collections, including archivists, museum technicians, collection managers, conservators, curators, interpreters, maintenance personnel, preparators, and researchers. The collection management specialist (curator, archivist, collection manager) is the person with primary responsibility for the day-to-day management of the museum collection. The duties of these professionals include: acquisition documentation Preventive conservation interpretation and exhibits research and publication A curator has expertise in material culture studies and is trained and skilled in the history and philosophy of museums, as well as the practical aspects of preventive conservation. The conservator is trained and skilled in the theoretical and practical aspects of preventive conservation and conservation treatment. Most conservators specialize in the treatment of specific groups of objects (for example, archeological objects, books, ethnographic objects, natural science specimens, fine and decorative art objects, photographic materials,

paintings, paper, sculpture, textiles, or wooden artifacts). There is some overlap among these groups, so one conservator may work on a range of these materials. The collection management specialist (such as a curator, archivist or collections manager) and the conservator work together and with other professionals to develop a successful conservation program. Conservators are responsible for recommending and carrying out conservation treatments. Untrained staff should NOT attempt to do treatments. However, the collection management specialist has the ultimate responsibility for deciding on the care and management of the collections. 1-9-How Preventive Conservation is Generally Carried Out? There are a variety of ways you can protect your collections from the agents of deterioration. There are four steps to stop or minimize damage: Avoid the agents of deterioration. For example, choose a site for your collection storage that is away from the flood plain of a river or stream. Build a storage facility that is properly insulated and does not have windows in collections areas. Block the agents when you cannot avoid them. This is probably the main way most museums protect their collections. For example, if your collection storage area has windows, cover them with plywood. Place UV filters on fluorescent lights to block damaging radiation. Fill cracks and gaps in a building structure to limit entry to pests. Test the methods you use to block agents of deterioration by monitoring. For example, set up an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program to find out if you have pests. Monitor relative humidity and temperature to find out if your HVAC system is working properly. Respond to information you gather with your monitoring programs. Monitoring is a waste of time if you do not review, interpret, and use the information. Only if these first four approaches fail should you have to recover from deterioration. Recovery usually means treating an object. While a treated object may look the same, once damage has occurred, an object will never be the same. Your aim in caring for your collection should be to carry out preventive tasks so that treatment is not needed. Many objects will come to your museum collections damaged and deteriorated from use and exposure. Because of their history, even in the best museum environment, some objects will need treatment. You should develop a treatment plan for immediate problems in the collection. Your primary goal, however, is to create a facility that will minimize damage and maintain the collection through preventive measures. These are a summary of the preventive conservation activities: Monitoring and assessing condition of collections Monitoring and evaluating museum environment and alerting staff to signs and causes of deterioration Practicing proper methods and techniques for storing, exhibiting, handling, packing and shipping of objects, and pest management. Developing and implementing ongoing Integrated Pest Management (IPM), and housekeeping/maintenance program for collections Preparing emergency operation plan for museum collections


PREVENTIVE CONSERVATION IN MUSEUMS 2-1- What information will I find in this chapter? This chapter will give you information on how to protect your collection from deterioration caused by interaction with the surrounding environment. From the moment an object is

created, it begins to deteriorate. The factors that can cause deterioration are called agents of deterioration. This chapter will address four agents that can be grouped under the term environment: Temperature Relative humidity Light Air pollution Understanding how the environment affects museum and storage collections and how to monitor and control these agents of deterioration is the most important part of a preventive conservation program. In order to understand how the agents of deterioration react with the objects in your collection, you must develop a critical eye. This skill allows you to identify active deterioration and its causes. How you do this is described below. 2-2-What is the Critical Eye? The critical eye is a way of looking at objects to evaluate their condition and identify reasons for changes in the condition. You develop this skill over a period of time through both training and experience. You must continually ask yourself the questions: What is occurring? Why is it occurring? What does it mean? 2.2.1-The critical eye is a trained eye. Your trained eyes will focus on the materials and structure of the object and look for visual clues to the agents of deterioration in the environment. A person with a trained eye readily recognizes danger signs, records them and associates them with the condition of the museum collections, and implements actions to slow down or stop deterioration. Examples of problems that you will see with a trained eye include: Sunlight falling on a light sensitive surface Condensation forming on cold surfaces Water stains appearing on ceilings or walls Insect residues and mouse droppings You must learn about the following topics to develop your critical eye: Types of materials that make up a museum collection Inherent characteristics of objects Types of deterioration The success of a preventive conservation program relies on the gathering, recording, and evaluating of all this information in order to implement solutions and to mitigate environmental factors that are harmful to a museum collection. 2-3-What Kinds of Materials Will I Find in a Museum Collection? Museum objects are often divided into three material-type categories: organic, inorganic, and composite. You must understand the properties of each of the materials in each of these categories. 2.3.1-Organic Objects: Organic objects are derived from things that were once living plants or animals. Materials are processed in a multitude of ways to produce the objects that come into your collections. Various material types include wood, paper, textiles, leather and skins, horn, bone and ivory, grasses and bark, lacquers and waxes, plastics, some pigments, shell, and biological natural history specimens. All organic materials share some common characteristics. They: contain the element carbon are combustible are made of complicated molecular structures that are susceptible to deterioration from extremes and changes in relative humidity and temperature absorb water from and emit water to the surrounding air in an ongoing attempt to reach an equilibrium (hygroscopic)

are sensitive to light are a source of food for mold, insects, and vermin 2.3.2-Inorganic Objects: Inorganic objects have a geological origin. Just like organic objects, the materials are processed in a variety of ways to produce objects found in your collections. Material types include: metals, ceramics, glass, stone, minerals, and some pigments. All inorganic objects share some common characteristics. They: have undergone extreme pressure or heat are usually not combustible at normal temperature can react with the environment to change their chemical structure (for example, corrosion or dissolution of constituents) may be porous (ceramics and stone) and will absorb contaminants (for example, water, salts, pollution, and acids) are not sensitive to light, except for certain types of glass and pigments 2.3.3-Composite Objects: Composite or mixed media objects are made up of two or more materials. For example, a painting may be made of a wood frame and stretcher, a canvas support, a variety of pigments of organic and inorganic origin, and a coating over the paint. A book is composed of several materials such as paper, ink, leather, thread, and glue. Depending on their materials, composite objects may have characteristics of both organic and inorganic objects. The individual materials in the object will react with the environment in different ways. Also, different materials may react in opposition to each other, setting up physical stress and causing chemical interactions that cause deterioration. 2-4-What is Deterioration? Deterioration is any physical or chemical change in the condition of an object. Deterioration is inevitable. It is a natural process by which an object reaches a state of physical and chemical equilibrium with its immediate environment. The types of deterioration can be divided into two broad categories: physical deterioration and chemical deterioration. Both types often occur simultaneously. 2.4.1-What is chemical deterioration? Chemical deterioration is any change in an object that involves an alteration of its chemical composition. It is a change at the atomic and molecular level. Chemical change usually occurs because of reaction with another chemical substance (pollution, water, pest waste) or radiation (light and heat). Examples of chemical change include: oxidation of metals (rusting) corrosion of metals and stone caused by air pollution damage to pigments by air pollution or reaction with other pigments staining of paper documents by adjacent acidic materials fading of dyes and pigments darkening of resins darkening and embrittlement of pulp papers burning or scorching of material in a fire embrittlement of textile fibers bleaching of many organic materials cross-linking (development of additional chemical bonds) of plastics rotting of wood by growing fungus 2.4.2-What is physical deterioration? Physical deterioration is a change in the physical structure of an object. It is any change in an object that does not involve a change in the chemical composition. Physical deterioration is often caused by variation in improper levels of temperature and relative humidity or interaction with some mechanical force. Examples of physical deterioration include: melting or softening of plastics, waxes, and resins caused by high temperature cracking or buckling of wood caused by fluctuations in relative humidity

warping of organic materials caused by high relative humidity warping or checking of organic materials caused by low relative humidity shattering, cracking, or chipping caused by impact crushing or distortion caused by a harder material pressing against flexible material abrasion caused by a harder material rubbing against a softer material structural failure (for example, metal fatigue, tears in paper, rips in textiles) loss of organic material due to feeding by insects and/or their larvae staining of textiles and paper by mold Physical deterioration and chemical deterioration are interrelated. For example, chemical changes in textiles caused by interaction with light also weaken the fabric so that physical damage such as rips and tears may occur. 2.5-What is Inherent Vice? In addition to deterioration caused by the agents of deterioration, certain types of objects will deteriorate because of their internal characteristics. This mechanism of deterioration is often called inherent vice or inherent fault. It occurs either because of the incompatibility of different materials or because of poor quality or unstable materials. In nature, materials often possess characteristics that protect them from natural degradation. Their structure and composition may include features such as protective layers, insect and mold resistant chemicals, and photochemical protection. Processing during object manufacture can remove these natural safeguards. Additives may be applied to give a desired result, without concern for long-term preservation. This processing results in inherently less stable materials or combinations of mutually incompatible substances that have damaging interaction. 2.6-Why is it important to understand the environmental agents of deterioration and how to monitor them? If you understand basic information about the chemistry and physics of temperature, relative humidity, light, and pollution, you will be better able to interpret how they are affecting your museum collections. This chapter gives you a basic overview of these agents and describes how to monitor them. You will be able to tell how good or bad the conditions in a museum are and whether or not the decisions you make to improve the environment are working the way you expect. The rest of this chapter gives you guidelines for deciding on the best environment that you can provide for your collections. However, because of the huge variation in materials found in collections no strict standards can be set. In the past, simplified standards such as 50% RH and 65F were promoted. With research and experience, it is now understood that different materials require different environments. You must understand the needs of your collection for the long-term in order to make thoughtful decisions about proper care. You will want to develop microenvironments for storage of particularly fragile objects. A microenvironment (microclimate) is a smaller area (box, cabinet, or separate room) where temperature and/or humidity are controlled to a different level than the general storage area. Common microenvironments include: freezer storage for cellulose nitrate film dry environments for archeological metals humidity-buffered exhibit cases for fragile organic materials temperature-controlled vaults for manuscript collections 2.6.1-. Temperature What is temperature? Temperature is a measure of the motion of molecules in a material. Molecules are the basic building blocks of everything. When the temperature increases, molecules in an object move faster and spread out; the material then expands. When the temperature decreases, molecules slow down and come closer together; materials then contract. Temperature and temperature variations can directly affect the preservation of museum collections in several ways. How does temperature affect museum collections? Temperature affects museum collections in a variety of ways. At higher temperatures, chemical reactions increase. For example, high temperature leads to the increased deterioration of cellulose nitrate film. If this deterioration is not detected, it

can lead to a fire. As a rule of thumb, most chemical reactions double in rate with each increase of 10C (18F). Biological activity also increases at warmer temperatures. Insects will eat more and breed faster, and mold will grow faster within certain temperature ranges. At high temperatures materials can soften. Wax may sag or collect dust more easily on soft surfaces, adhesives can fail, lacquers and magnetic tape may become sticky. In exhibit, storage and research spaces, where comfort of people is a factor, the recommended temperature level is 18-20 C (64-68 F). Temperature should not exceed 24 C (75 F). Try to keep temperatures as level as possible. In areas where comfort of people is not a concern, temperature can be kept at much lower levelsbut above freezing. Avoid abrupt changes in temperature. It is often quick variations that cause more problems than the specific level. Fluctuating temperatures can cause materials to expand and contract rapidly, setting up destructive stresses in the object. If objects are stored outside, repeated freezing and thawing can cause damage. Temperature is also a primary factor in determining relative humidity levels. When temperature varies, RH will vary. This is discussed in more detail in the next section. 2.6.2- Relative Humidity is relative humidity (RH)? Relative humidity is a relationship between the volume of air and the amount of water vapor it holds at a given temperature. Relative humidity is important because water plays a role in various chemical and physical forms of deterioration. There are many sources for excess water in a museum: exterior humidity levels, rain, nearby bodies of water, wet ground, broken gutters, leaking pipes, moisture in walls, human respiration and perspiration, wet mopping, flooding, and cycles of condensation and evaporation. All organic materials and some inorganic materials absorb and give off water depending on the relative humidity of the surrounding air. Metal objects will corrode faster at higher relative humidity. Pests are more active at higher relative humidity. We use relative humidity to describe how saturated the air is with water vapor. 50% RH means that the air being measured has 50% of the total amount of water vapor it could hold at a specific temperature. It is important to understand that the temperature of the air determines how much moisture the air can hold. Warmer air can hold more water vapor. This is because an increase in the temperature causes the air molecules to move faster and spread out, creating space for more water molecules. For example, warm air at 25C (77F) can hold a maximum of about 24 grams/cubic meter (g/m3), whereas cooler air at 10C (50F) can hold only about 9 g/m3. Relative humidity is directly related to temperature. In a closed volume of air (such as a storage cabinet or exhibit case) where the amount of moisture is constant, a rise in temperature results in a decrease in relative humidity and a drop in temperature results in an increase in relative humidity. For example, turning up the heat when you come into work in the morning will decrease the RH; turning it down at night will increase the RH. Relative humidity is inversely related to temperature. In a closed system, when the temperature goes up, the RH goes down; when temperature goes down, the RH goes up. What is the psychrometric chart? The relationships between relative humidity, temperature, and other factors such as absolute humidity and dew point can be graphically displayed on a psychrometric chart. The following definitions will help you understand the factors displayed on the chart and how they affect the environment in your museum. Absolute humidity (AH) is the quantity of moisture present in a given volume of air. It is not temperature dependent. It can be expressed as grams of water per cubic meter of air (g/m3). A cubic meter of air in a storage case might hold 10 g of water. The AH would be 10 g/m3. Dew point (or saturation temperature) is the temperature at which the water vapor present saturates the air. If the temperature is lowered the water will begin to condense forming dew. In a building, the water vapor may condense on colder surfaces in a room, for example, walls or window panes. If a shipping crate is allowed to stand outside on a hot day, the air inside the box will heat up, and water will and condense on the cooler objects.

Relative humidity relates the moisture content of the air you are measuring (AH) to the amount of water vapor the air could hold at saturation at a certain temperature. Relative humidity is expressed as a percentage at a certain temperature. This can be expressed as the equation: RH = Absolute Humidity of Sampled Air x 100 Absolute Humidity of Saturated Air at Same Temperature Use the following example to understand how this concept relates to your museum environment. In many buildings it is common to turn the temperature down in the evenings when people are not present. If you do this in your storage space, you will be causing daily swings in the RH. Suppose you keep the air at 20C (68F) while people are working in the building. A cubic meter of air in a closed space at 20C (68F) can hold a maximum of 17 grams of water vapor. If there are only 8.5 grams of water in this air, you can calculate the relative humidity. The AH of the air = 8.5 grams The AH of saturated air at 20C = 17.0 grams Using the equation above RH = 8.5 x 100% = 50% 50% RH may be a reasonable RH for your storage areas. But, if you turn down the heat when you leave the building at night, the RH of the air in the building will rise rapidly. You can figure out how much by using the same equation. If the temperature is decreased to 15C (59F), the same cubic meter of air can hold only about 13 grams of water vapor. Using the same equation The AH of the air = 8.5 grams The AH of saturated air at 15C (59F) = 13.0 grams RH = 8.5 x 100% = 65% By turning down the heat each night and turning it up in the morning you will cause a 15% daily rise and fall in RH. How do organic objects react with relative humidity? Organic materials are hygroscopic. Hygroscopic materials absorb and release moisture to the air. The RH of the surrounding air determines the amount of water in organic materials. When RH increases they absorb more water; when it decreases they release moisture to reach equilibrium with the surrounding environment. The amount of moisture in a material at a certain RH is called the Equilibrium Moisture Content (EMC). Over time, these reactions with water can cause deterioration. deterioration is caused by relative humidity? Deterioration can occur when RH is too high, variable, or too low. Too high: When relative humidity is high, chemical reactions may increase, just as when temperature is elevated. Many chemical reactions require water; if there is lots of it available, then chemical deterioration can proceed more quickly. Examples include metal corrosion or fading of dyes. High RH levels cause swelling and warping of wood and ivory. High RH can make adhesives or sizing softer or sticky. Paper may cockle, or buckle; stretched canvas paintings may become too slack. High humidity also supports biological activity. Mold growth is more likely as RH rises above 65%. Insect activity may increase. Too low: Very low RH levels cause shrinkage, warping, and cracking of wood and ivory; shrinkage, stiffening, cracking, and flaking of photographic emulsions and leather; desiccation of paper and adhesives; and desiccation of basketry fibers. Variable: Changes in the surrounding RH can affect the water content of objects, which can result in dimensional changes in hygroscopic materials. They swell or contract, constantly adjusting to the environment until the rate or magnitude of change is too great and deterioration occurs. Deterioration may occur in imperceptible increments, and therefore go unnoticed for a long time (for example, cracking paint layers). The damage may also occur suddenly (for example, cracking of wood). Materials particularly at high risk due to fluctuations are laminate and composite materials such as photographs, magnetic media, veneered furniture, paintings, and other similar objects. are the recommendations for relative humidity control? You should monitor relative humidity and implement improvements to stabilize the environment. There are many ways to limit fluctuations, not all dependent on having an

expensive mechanical system. For example, good control is achievable simply by using welldesigned and well constructed storage and exhibit cases. Ideally, fluctuations should not exceed 5% from a set point, each month. You should decide on a set point based on an evaluation of your particular regional environment. Establish maximum and minimum levels by assessing the nature and condition of the materials in the collection and the space where they are housed. For example, if you are in Ohio you may decide on a set point of 50%5%. The humidity could go as high as 55% or as low as 45% within a month. If you are in the arid southwest you might choose 35% as your set point as objects have equilibrated at much lower RH levels. Be aware though, you should not allow your RH to go as high as 65% because of the chance that mold might develop. Below 30% some objects may become stiff and brittle. Over the year you may want to allow drift. Drift means that your set point varies in different seasonsusually higher RH in the summer and lower RH in the winter. Allowing drift will often save you money over the longterm as mechanical systems work less to maintain the proper environment. If your collections are housed in a historic structure, preservation of the structure may require drift. It is important to understand that these variations in RH and temperature should be slow and gradual variations (over weeks and months), not brief and variable. Archeological Materials Negligible Climate-Sensitive Materials .........................................30% 65% Climate Sensitive Materials ..............................................................30% - 55% Significantly Climate Sensitive Materials ......................................30% - 40% Metals.............................................................................................................<35% Natural History Materials Biological specimens..........................................................................40% - 60% Bone and teeth.....................................................................................45% - 60% Paleontological specimens ...............................................................45% - 55% Pyrite specimens ..........................................................................................<30% Paintings..............................................................................................40% - 65% Paper ....................................................................................................45% - 55% Photographs/Film/Negatives ..........................................................30% - 40% Other organics (wood, leather, textiles, ivory)..........................45% - 60% Metals............................................................................................................<35% Ceramics, glass, stone ......................................................................40% - 60% Relative Humidity Optimum Ranges for Various Materials 2.7- Monitoring and Controlling Temperature and Relative Humidity 2.7.1. Why should I monitor temperature and relative humidity? You must monitor temperature and relative humidity so that you know what the environment in your storage and exhibit spaces is like over time. Monitoring helps you: set a baseline of temperature and humidity to see if the storage space is adequate identify variations in the temperature and humidity throughout collections areas monitor equipment to be sure it is working right help develop strategies to improve the environment identify whether your strategies are working to improve the environment 2.7.2-What kind of monitoring equipment should I have? There are a variety of temperature and relative humidity monitoring tools that are available for monitoring the environment in your museum. They can be divided into two types: spot measuring devices and continuous recording devices. Each type is most effective for different specific tasks so you may need to purchase more than one of the following pieces of equipment: Psychrometers: All museums should have a psychrometer. There are two types: sling psychrometer and aspirating psychrometer. Of the two, an aspirating psychrometer is more accurate. A psychrometer gives you the RH by comparing the temperature between a dry bulb and wet bulb. The dry bulb is a mercury thermometer. The wet bulb is an identical thermometer covered with a wetted cotton wick. Because of the cooling effect of evaporating water, the

wet bulb reads lower than the dry bulb. The drier the air, the faster the water evaporates and the lower the reading. To take readings with a sling psychrometer, whirl it around for one minute to pass air over the wet and dry bulbs. Read the wet bulb immediately and record the results. Repeat the process until you get the same readings two times in a row. The aspirating psychrometer uses a battery powered fan to steadily blow air over the bulb at a set speed. Both these instruments are accurate to 5%. The aspirating psychrometer is more reliable because it minimizes possible errors by the operator and ensures a constant air flow past the wick. Accuracy will also depend on the length of the thermometer and how accurately you can read the temperature. Before you use a psychrometer, be sure to read the manufacturers instructions. To ensure you get an accurate reading keep the following points in mind: - keep wick closely fitted to the thermometer bulb - do not touch the wick - keep the wick clean - use only deionized water to wet the wick - be sure that the aspirating psychrometer has a good battery Accuracy of aspirating and sling psychrometers can be affected by altitude, especially at lower relative humidities. At lower atmospheric pressure water evaporates faster, lowering the temperature of the dry bulb more. If your collections are 900 meters or more above sea level, you should obtain pressure-corrected charts, tables, or slide rules or use a pressure correction formula. Hygrometers: You can use a hygrometer to measure relative humidity levels when you dont have a hygrothermograph or datalogger or in spaces that are too small for psychrometers (for example, inside an exhibit or a storage case). When you use a hygrometer, also record the temperature. There are three types of hygrometers: dial hygrometers, electronic hygrometers, and humidity strips. In a dial hygrometer, a hygroscopic material (often paper) is attached to a hand on a dial. As the hygroscopic material absorbs or gives off moisture, it expands and contracts, causing the hand to move across the dial. Dial hygrometers can be accurate to +5%, but they are very inaccurate at low (<40%) and high (>80%) RH levels. Often they are hard to calibrate, so over time will drift and become inaccurate. Digital hygrometers often have a built-in temperature monitor. If you purchase one of these tools be sure it can be calibrated. They are often calibrated with saturated salt solutions provided in a kit by the manufacturer. Electronic hygrometers can be used to calibrate hygrothermographs if you are sure the hygrometer is in proper calibration. Humidity indicator strips are a special kind of hygrometer that use paper impregnated with cobalt salts. A series of patches are labeled with RH, usually in 10% increments. The color is blue at low RH levels and pink at high RH levels. Read the RH at the point of change between pink and blue. These strips are inexpensive and can give you some basic understanding of your RH levels at a variety of spots around your building. If used in a moist environment, they can become inaccurate. Hygrothermographs: Hygrothermographs have been the basic monitoring tool in museums for some time. They give you a continuous record of temperature and humidity variations over a period of 1, 7, 31, or 62 days. The instrument consists of six major components: - The housing - A temperature element, usually a bimetal strip - A relative humidity element, which may be a human hair bundle or a polymer membrane - Linkage arms and recording pens - A drive mechanism, which may be spring wound or battery operated, that rotates a chart - A chart, which may be wrapped around a cylindrical drum or be a circular disk The temperature-sensitive element (the bimetal strip) and the hygroscopic material (for example, the human hair) are connected to arms with pens at their tips. The pens rest on a revolving chart and move up and down as the bimetal strip and the hair react to environmental changes. Hygrothermographs are accurate within 3-5% when properly calibrated. They are most accurate within the range of 30-60% RH. Electronic datalogger: Electronic dataloggers have become common in museums. There are a variety of types of dataloggers available at a range of prices. A model that records temperature, relative humidity, and light will meet typical museum needs. The data must be

downloaded onto a computer. All datalogger companies provide at least basic software programs that allow you to manipulate the data to produce graphs and tables of information. Most allow you to transfer this information in ASCII format to a spreadsheet program. They require less calibration than hygrothermographs, though they must usually be sent back to the company for calibration. Many dataloggers do not display data so you will not have any indication of what is occurring in your environment until you download the data. Some now include a liquid crystal display unit. Electronic dataloggers can be very useful instruments, but they are not exact replacements for hygrothermographs. 2.7.3-. How do I read a hygrothermograph chart or datalogger graph? If you have spent any time inspecting hygrothermograph charts or datalogger graphs you may have observed readings that defy simple explanations. There are many variables that may account for unusual readings. Some of them include: The quality and condition of the building where your collection is housed (the envelope) Staff activity Public visitation HVAC equipment performance and failure Barometric pressure Weather The condition and accuracy of the monitoring equipment An unusual source for moisture such as curing concrete, underground cisterns, clogged drains. It is impossible to explain all of the patterns you may encounter in a monitoring program. However, some common patterns and causes can be explained: 2.7.4-. How do I use the hygrothermograph or datalogger data? Imagine that the record reveals that the conditions within the structure are too damp for most environmentally sensitive objects (for example, furniture and wooden objects, textile and paper objects). Probably the basement will have consistently high RH levels, the first floor will be somewhat drier, and the second floor might be drier than the first floor. If you do find that the building is too damp, there may be problems in your collections. You will need to look with a critical eye for evidence of mold and insect activity and/or damage and for sources of moisture in the structures walls and basement. For example, rainwater runoff from the roof may be entering the basement through deep window wells and masonry cellar walls. Once you identify the problem you must take action. While waiting for modifications to correct the runoff problem, you could put a dehumidifier and fans in the basement. Be sure to seek advice on correcting the problem from others who can help. 2.7.5-How do I organize and summarize the data from my hygrothermograph charts or datalogger graphs? You must organize the data recorded by each hygrothermograph or datalogger to make it useful in developing strategies. Keep a record of daily observations, noting occurrences, such as, unusual exterior climatic conditions, a leaky roof, re-calibration of the equipment, or an unusual visitation pattern. At the end of each month when you remove the hygrothermograph chart or download datalogger data, compare this information to the daily record. It may help to record unusual occurrences directly on the chart or graph so that it is easy to see how the environment affected temperature and relative humidity. 2.7.6-. How do I summarize longterm data? You can use a table or graph to summarize relative humidity and temperature data. One way is to prepare a table that records information collected over a period of time (for example, four to six weeks). You can put the following information in a table: High temperature Low temperature Maximum diurnal (24 hour) temperature change High relative humidity Low relative humidity

Maximum diurnal relative humidity change You can also summarize the data using graphs. You can design your graphs in a variety of ways. For example: Record both temperature and relative humidity on the same graph. Record temperature for several different floors of a historic structure. Compare temperature or RH parameters set for a building against recorded data. You can also summarize data by preparing room-by-room records for a year. Each week, for each room or space: Record high/low readings for temperature and relative humidity. Record fluctuation patterns of temperature and relative humidity by correlating with the time of day. Note maximum diurnal RH fluctuations. For example: Furnished Historic Structure. Room A Temperature: 18-22C (64-71F) 5/18-5/24 Gradual rise in relative humidity through week; no rapid fluctuations Gradual daily fluctuations from 18(64F) to 22C (71F); low about midnight, high around 3 p.m. Relative Humidity: 22% -32% RH Maximum diurnal fluctuations: 10% RH You should summarize data gathered from instruments and recorded on your monitoring record. This helps you evaluate long-term trends and watch for problems. Summary information helps you develop new environmental control measures. You can summarize your data for each space by season in the same format as above. A summary gives you an idea of the variation that you have throughout the year. Use the summary documents in a variety of ways: Identify problems with your environment. Build an argument about the need to get environmental upgrades or a new building. Evaluate whether or not changes you have made really do improve the environment. 2.7.7-. How do I control temperature and relative humidity? considerations: When you control the climate surrounding museum objects, you provide a stable environment that eliminates rapid fluctuations and extremes in temperature and RH. When you develop a strategy to control the environment in your museum spaces, keep the following points in mind: . There is no general solution to controlling your relative humidity. Every situation presents different variables that you must evaluate before setting standards. Base your standards on: - The local climate (for example, tropical, temperate, arid) - The nature and condition of the materials in your collection - The nature and condition of the structure housing the collection - The ability of HVAC equipment to maintain the standard - The ability of staff to maintain equipment In order to develop an effective control program, you must have good information. Collect data for one year before establishing acceptable ranges and limits. Use a team approach in controlling relative humidity. Once you have gathered your data, discuss control strategies with your regional/SO curator, and others, such as conservators, historic architects, and mechanical engineers. Strategies for controlling levels of RH and temperature should keep energy costs in mind. You will need to develop both active and passive measures for controlling the environment. When adapting a historic structure explore the use of simple modifications to your structure or space and employ portable mechanical equipment (humidifier, dehumidifier, heater, and air conditioner) or passive storage controls. Once you have implemented strategies to improve the environment, continue monitoring to evaluate whether or not your strategies are working. building envelope: You must eliminate sources of moisture by repairing the structure or correcting drainage problems. Problems that may cause high levels of relative humidity include: leaking roof, ceiling, or windows Gaps in walls, floors, or foundation vapor barrier

leaking plumbing damaged gutters and downspouts Wet walls and foundations from poor drainage Open water sources such as sinks or toilets methods of control: There are a variety of practices that you can adopt to passively control the temperature and RH. Carefully develop a plan to use passive controls. After adopting the practice, continue to monitor to be sure that the action improves that environment the way you expect it to. Avoid turning HVAC equipment on during the day and off at night. This practice causes daily fluctuations in RH levels. Limit the number of people in a room. Large groups of people can raise the relative humidity from moisture introduced by breathing and perspiring. You may have to open doors within a building to change the circulation of the air. Locate sensitive objects away from spotlights, windows, exterior walls, air vents, and entrance doorways. You can also limit increased temperatures caused by the sun by using existing blinds, curtains, drapes, or exterior shutters. In temperate zones, reduce temperature levels during the winter. Lowering the set point of the heating equipment by several degrees raises the interior relative humidity to stabilize conditions overall. Store objects in cases, boxes, and folders. Containers are a very effective method of buffering temperature and RH fluctuations. They also limit light damage and protect collections from pests. To control relative humidity levels for sensitive objects (for example, some metals, textiles, paper, pyritic mineral, and fossil specimens) you may need to create a microenvironment to stabilize and maintain conditions that are different from the general museum environment. The use of a properly sealed storage cabinet or exhibit case with buffering material (for example silica gel) can provide a proper microclimate for sensitive objects. 2.8 -Using Silica Gel in Microenvironments Regulating the relative humidity (RH) in your exhibit space and collection storage areas is an essential part of preventive conservation. Silica gel (silicon dioxide) is a material that can be used to control RH within microclimates in exhibit cabinetry and storage units. This man-made material can create and maintain both high and low humidity levels within well-sealed enclosures. If used properly, silica gel will reduce daily, weekly, and seasonal fluctuations in humidity. Silica gel is particularly useful in museum microenvironments because it is non-toxic, and does not give off gaseous pollutants. You can use it as a desiccant at moderate or high RH levels to prevent damage to metal objects that may rust or corrode. Because silica gel acts as both a moisture absorber and desorber it can be used as a humidity buffer, providing a stable environment for moisture-sensitive objects, such as glass, ivory, wood, leather, bone, and textiles. These objects often require moderate levels of RH and restricted fluctuation (e.g., 40% to 60% RH). 2.8.1-Types of Silica Gel Silica gel is a hard, inert, crystalline material that can absorb up to 40% of its weight in moisture through millions of tiny pores. Traditional silica gel (commonly referred to as standard gel) acts efficiently as a desiccant to create drier microenvironments (e.g., below 40% RH). Newer hybrid gels are more effective as buffers in a museum environment than traditional silica gel. They are considered high-performance gels and are most effective between 4060% RH. Standard silica gel is also available in a self indicating form, which will change from blue to pink when it reaches its absorption capacity near 40% RH. Therefore, indicating gel is not useful at very low RH levels. Although self indicating gel is more expensive than standard silica gel, small amounts of it can be mixed in with regular gel and still give effective readings. Hybrid gels are not available in a self-indicating form. Several commercial products are available in which materials such as paper or expanded foam have been impregnated with silica gel. Prepackaged silica gel is also available in heat resistant polyester or nylon bags of different sizes. Many museum staff, however, prefer to fabricate their own silica gel containers, customizing them to fit their individual exhibit or storage cabinetry. Custom-made

containers are also less costly than commercially-manufactured products. Instructions for constructing silica gel containers appear later in this leaflet. 2.8.2-Requirements for Using Silica Gel Silica gel can only maintain a microenvironment in a well-sealed enclosure. To ensure that cabinetry has limited air exchange with the room, seal all leaks and use conservationappropriate caulk sealant or gaskets where necessary. To remove or replenish the gel provide easy access to the areas where the gel containers will be located. When silica gel no longer maintains the required RH it can be reconditioned back to the desired RH. Never let silica gel come in direct contact with museum objects. When working with silica gel use an approved dust mask and latex or nitrile gloves; the dust can cause lung damage. 2.8.3-Calculating the Amount of Gel Required Numerous factors affect the quantity of gel required for a specific application: humidity vulnerability of the objects degree of RH restriction required RH differences between the enclosure and room volume of the enclosure permeability and air leakage of the enclosure stability of overall room temperature desired maintenance cycle When using hybrid gels, museums commonly use the ratio 114 lb. to 112 lb. gel per cubic foot of space. Determine the size of your storage or exhibit enclosure in cubic feet by multiplying length times height times width. It is recommended, however, that you consult the gel manufacturer for exact requirements. 2.8.4-Monitoring the Microenvironment In order for any microenvironment to be successful, it is necessary to monitor it regularly. Use humidity-monitoring strips or a hygrometer to evaluate your microenvironment's climate. Selfindicating gel will alert you when standard gel is nearing its saturation point, but it won't reveal the exact RH. Check the RH level frequently. 2.8.5-How to Make Silica Gel Containers In traditional applications silica gel has been spread loosely on trays or pans that are placed in cases or storage units. This approach will work, but is less desirable due to the risks from handling and the potential for spilling and airborne dust. The use of closed containers is recommended for convenience and to reduce the risks to adjacent objects. The thickness of any silica gel container should be less than two inches because gel is most effective when maximum surface area is exposed. Rigid, compartmentalized containers (called cassettes or tiles) are a good choice because they can fit into narrow spaces. Small fabric bags allow for effective surface exposure and are easier to handle than large ones. Tubular, snakelike bags can be fed through small doors and can bend around corners. Choose the type, size, and shape of container that best fits your application and cabinetry. Instructions for fabricating standardized containers follow. Bag Fabrication: Use non-woven, polyesterbonded fabric (e. g . , Tyvekm), nylon screening, or polypropylene screening to construct the bag: Sew together three sides of each bag with cotton thread, leaving one side open for filling and emptying. Fill the bag with silica gel, using a funnel under an exhaust hood or outdoors. Close the top with a hook and loop type fastener, or by sewing the open edge of material closed. Use compressed air in a hood or outdoors to remove dust from open screen bags. Large sized enclosures or cabinetry require larger quantities of gel. Oversized bags can be fabricated but need compartments to prevent the gel from settling along one edge or corner of a huge pocket. To create smaller compartments, begin by stitching through the two layers of fabric at several intervals. Leave the top outside edge of each section open for filling; after introducing the gel close the open edges as described above. Making rigid tiles: Custom, thin-profile containers can be fabricated to hold standard amounts of gel (e.g., 112 to several pound units). These shallow containers provide a large amount of surface area, increasing the silica gel's responsiveness. To fabricate use 112-inch square, acrylic light diffuser panels. These grid-patterned panels (referred to as "egg-crate") are conventionally placed over fluorescent lights and can be purchased at hardware or lighting supply stores. The most commonly available panel size is 2 x 4 feet. Cut the panel to size with a handsaw or electric saw. Size them to fit the cabinet. Grind or file off any remaining rough edges. Cover one side of the panel with fabric or

screening. Glue the material into place with an acrylic adhesive (using a paint roller) or low melting point hot glue gun stick. Fill the squares of the diffuser panel with silica gel. Attach a top covering of fabric using the same adhesive or glue system as above. Rigid cassettes or tiles can fit vertically or horizontally into a storage container; in exhibit cases they can be installed in an environmental control maintenance chamber or can simply be hidden with a decorative fabric and left in the display area. 2.8.6-Conditioning Silica Gel Silica gel must be conditioned to the desired RH before placement inside an exhibit case or storage unit. If you intend to use silica gel as a desiccant, a humidifier, or as a buffer the gel must be conditioned or "adjusted. " Conditioning silica gel involves either removing or adding water to adjust the gel's moisture content. Most silica gel is shipped in a desiccated condition. Some manufacturers pre-condition silica gel making it ready for use. In some instances, the gel can be sent back to the manufacturer for reconditioning. This service is convenient, but more expensive than purchasing unconditioned silica gel. To condition silica gel you will need to monitor the gel's moisture content, at the beginning and throughout the process. Do this either by weighing the gel or by monitoring the RH of the air that surrounds the gel. Weighing Silica Gel: Choose one of two methods: Weigh a known quantity of gel, and check it against a calibration chart that gives standard weights in relation to humidity level. Request a chart from the manufacturer if one does not accompany the silica gel products. As an alternative, the gel can be exposed to an environment that has the desired RH, such as a climate-controlled room or chamber. Weigh the gel repeatedly until its weight stabilizes, indicating that it has reached equilibrium with the RH of the room or chamber. Monitoring the Air Around Gel: Put a small amount of gel (about 112 cup) in a well-sealed jar or self-seal bag with a calibrated hygrometer. Do not let the hygrometer touch the gel. After two hours the hygrometer should give an accurate reading of the humidity level the gel is able to maintain. 2.8.7 Conditioning and Re-conditioning Techniques Four different methods to condition silica gel: 1) Direct Heat Application. This technique is used when silica gel needs to be adjusted down and as much moisture removed as possible. Conventional oven: Spread loose gel to a depth no more than 112 inch in a shallow, heat-resistant pan. Set oven to 150F, and heat gel for four hours. Temperature and time may vary depending on the gel's moisture content, the RH required and the type of gel used. If you choose to heat silica gel in its bag or cassette, check with the manufacturer of the container to determine an appropriate temperature to avoid accidental melting or burning. Microwave oven: Spread loose gel in a shallow glass pan to a depth of no more than 112 inch. Heat in microwave for two minutes on high. Cool gel for one minute outside of the oven. Repeat 10 times or until dry. 2) Room or Chamber Exposure. This method can be used to adjust gel up or down. It may take several weeks, depending on how much change in RH is required. Use this technique when you want to buffer your silica gel to a specific level. Place silica gel in a room or chamber that is at the desired RH level. Position a fan near the silica gel, blowing air over it to decrease the conditioning time. Check RH daily; continue until desired level is reached. 3) Exposure to Water Vapor. This method is used for adjusting up. It will increase the gel's RH level. Spread the gel evenly in a shallow pan. Put the pan in a chamber or plastic bag. Place a container of water or wet sponge in the chamber or bag (the larger the surface area of the water, the faster the gel will absorb the moisture). Do not wet the gel. Note: If this method is used to recondition gel directly in storage or exhibit cabinetry, great care must be exercised to avoid a water spill or over humidification. 4) Gradual exposure to new gel. This technique can be used to adjust gel up or down. It is especially useful because it ensures slow and gradual change of the RH within a storage

container or exhibit case. Put a small amount of pre-conditioned gel (15-20% of the volume of gel you want to condition) into the cabinet or container. It should be fully saturated if you want to raise the RH, or fully desiccated if you want to lower the RH. Place the new gel near the original gel, but in a separate container. Closely monitor the interior RH until desired RH level is achieved. 2.9-Active methods of humidity and temperature control. A properly designed heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system can maintain appropriate levels of relative humidity and temperature and filter particulate gases from the air. Installing an HVAC system that achieves and maintains the environment to the levels described in this chapter is not easy. In some cases, especially with historic buildings, this approach can be detrimental to the historic building. Before embarking on a program to install, upgrade, or design a new HVAC system, assemble a team of experts and plan a system that protects both the collections and the museum building. Choose team members with expertise in historic collections care, preservation, mechanical, electrical, and structural engineering. You must have good information from your ongoing monitoring program to help you identify the needs and problems of your current system. Working from this information, your team can design a practical system that will preserve both the collection and the building. In some cases, you may choose to use portable humidifiers, dehumidifiers, heaters, and air conditioners. In the short-term this equipment can do a lot to improve the environment in a museum collection space. It is also less expensive than installing a new HVAC system. Humidifiers quickly add moisture to the air. Use a humidifier in the winter to counteract the drying effect of a central heating system. Use only an unheated evaporative humidifier. This type of humidifier does not disperse minerals in the air, and if the humidistat (a switch that turns off the equipment when a certain RH is reached) malfunctions, this type of humidifier will not raise the RH level above 65-70%. Be sure air is well circulated. You may have to use fans for circulation. You must select the size and number of humidifiers based on the size of the space, the air exchange rate, differences between the inside and outside of the building, and the number of people using the room. Dehumidifiers remove moisture from the air and lower the RH. Dont use this equipment as a permanent corrective measure instead, find out why the air is so damp and work to remove the source of the water. There are two types of dehumidifiers: - Refrigerant dehumidifiers work on the same principle as a refrigerator. Cool air cannot hold as much moisture as warm air and it condenses within the machine. Use this type of dehumidifier in warm climates. You must drain dehumidifiers at least daily. - Desiccant dehumidifiers force air through a moisture-absorbing material (for example, lithium chloride) to reduce moisture. Hot air is blown over the desiccant to regenerate it. Desiccant dehumidifiers are useful in colder areas where refrigerant dehumidifiers may ice up and stop working. 2.9.1- What are humidistatically controlled heating and ventilation systems? Humidistatic control is a way to control relative humidity in a building without using a HVAC system. The basic idea behind humidistatic control takes advantage of the inverse relationship between temperature and relative humidity. Humidistatically controlled heating is based on the idea that if the absolute humidity of a given volume of air changes, it is possible to maintain a stable RH by manipulating and varying the temperature. A humidistat sensor adjusts the temperature up and down to maintain a stable RH. If the RH rises above a set point, the heat is turned on until the RH drops back down. However, using this system, temperatures can drop very low, so this type of environmental control system is best used in areas that are infrequently accessed. Humidistatically controlled ventilation is used in areas with high relative humidity. If interior RH is lower than exterior RH, dampers are opened by sensors and the air is circulated through the building. If exterior RH is too high, the dampers remain closed. Both of these techniques may be cost effective ways of improving the environment in historic buildings that were not built to house museum collections. They are generally less intrusive to the building fabric, and maintenance and energy costs are lower

than typical HVAC systems. If you are considering using humidistatic controls work with an engineer or architect who has experience with the technique. 2.10-Light Light is another agent of deterioration that can cause damage to museum objects. Light causes fading, darkening, yellowing, embrittlement, stiffening, and a host of other chemical and physical changes. This section gives an overview of the nature of light. It will help you understand and interpret monitoring data and the standards given for light levels in museum storage and exhibits. Be aware of the types of objects that are particularly sensitive to light damage including: book covers, inks, feathers, furs, leather and skins, paper, photographs, textiles, watercolors, and wooden furniture. 2.10.1. What is light? Light is a form of energy that stimulates our sense of vision. This energy has both electrical and magnetic properties, so it known as electromagnetic radiation. To help visualize this energy, imagine a stone dropped in a pond. The energy from that stone causes the water to flow out in waves. Light acts the same way. We can measure the wavelength (the length from the top of each wave to the next) to measure the energy of the light. The unit of measurement is the nanometer (1 nanometer (nm) equals 1 thousand millionth of a meter). We can divide the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation into parts based on the wavelength. The ultraviolet (UV) has very short wavelengths (300-400 nm) and high energy. We cannot perceive UV light. The visible portion of the spectrum has longer wavelengths (400-760 nm) and our eyes can see this light. Infrared (IR) wavelengths start at about 760 nm. We perceive IR as heat. The energy in light reacts with the molecules in objects causing physical and chemical changes. Because humans only need the visible portion of the spectrum to see, you can limit the amount of energy that contacts objects by excluding UV and IR radiation that reaches objects from light sources. All types of lighting in museums (daylight, fluorescent lamps, incandescent (tungsten), and tungsten-halogen lamps) emit varying degrees of UV radiation. This radiation (which has the most energy) is the most damaging to museum objects. Equipment, materials, and techniques now exist to block all UV. No UV should be allowed in museum exhibit and storage spaces. The strength of visible light is referred to as the illumination level or illuminance. You measure illuminance in lux, the amount of light flowing out from a source that reaches and falls on one square meter. We measure illuminance in museums because we are concerned with the light energy that falls on our objects, not how much light energy comes from the source. When you measure light levels, hold your meter at the surface of the object to catch the light that is reaching that surface. Illuminance was previously measured in footcandles. You may find older equipment or references that list footcandle levels. Ten footcandles equal about 1 lux. When considering light levels in your museum you should keep in mind the reciprocity law. The reciprocity law states, Low light levels for extended periods cause as much damage as high light levels for brief periods. The rate of damage is directly proportional to the illumination level multiplied by the time of exposure. A 200-watt light bulb causes twice as much damage as a 100-watt bulb in the same amount of time. A dyed textile on exhibit for six months will fade about half as much as it would if left on exhibit for one year. So if you want to limit damage from light you have two options: reduce the amount of light reduce the exposure time Note: Even small amounts of light will cause damage. Damage as a result of exposure to light is cumulative. It cannot be reversed. However, you can stop the continuation of damage by placing an object in dark storage. Cases, boxes, and folders are the first defense against light damage. If lighting is too close to or focused on an object, IR can raise the temperature. It may also lower the water content of porous materials. You can get heat buildup from: Sunlight Incandescent spotlights Fluorescent ballasts

Lights in closed cases Design exhibits so there is no heat buildup from IR generated by lights. 2.10.2. What are the standards for visible light levels? You can protect your exhibits from damage caused by lighting by keeping the artificial light levels low. The human eye can adapt to a wide variety of lighting levels, so a low light level should pose no visibility problems. However, the eye requires time to adjust when moving from a bright area to a more dimly lighted space. This is particularly apparent when moving from daylight into a darker exhibit area. When developing exhibit spaces, gradually decrease lighting from the entrance so visitors eyes have time to adjust. Do not display objects that are sensitive to light near windows or outside doors. Basic standards5 for exhibit light levels are: 50 lux maximum for especially light-sensitive materials including: - dyed organic materials, textiles, watercolors, photographs and blueprints, tapestries, prints and drawings, manuscripts, leather, wallpapers, biological specimens, fur, and feathers. 200 lux maximum for less light-sensitive objects including: - undyed organic materials, oil and tempera paintings, and finished wooden surfaces 300 lux for other materials that are not light-sensitive including: - Metals, stone, ceramics, some glass In general don't use levels above 300 lux in your exhibit space so that light level variation between exhibit spaces is not too great. With this method, people's eyes will not have to keep adapting to changing light levels, and they will be able to see objects exhibited at lower levels much more easily. These standards should serve as a starting point for developing lighting standards for your collections. In order for collections to be seen and used in various ways (for example, long-term exhibit, short-term exhibit, research, teaching) you should take into account a variety of factors: Light sensitivity of the object Time of exposure Light level Type of use Color and contrast of object 2.11- Monitoring and Controlling Light To be sure that light levels are at required levels and to be sure that any UV filtering material is still effective, you should measure light levels at least once a year. If you change lighting fixtures, take new measurements to be sure the changes are within recommended levels. If the source of light is daylight (for example, in a historic house museum) you should measure light in the morning and afternoon throughout the seasons. 2.11.1. How do I monitor light levels? You monitor light levels using specialized equipment. This equipment is necessary because your eye is not a reliable guide as it easily adapts to changes in visible light and cant see UV or IR light. Use a visible light meter to measure visible light and a UV meter to measure ultraviolet light. Use a thermometer to measure heat buildup from IR. Several different meters are available for measuring visible and UV light.. Visible Light Meter: Use a visible light meter to measure the visible portion of the electro magnetic spectrum. If you purchase a new meter, you should be sure to purchase one that measures in the standard unit, lux. The meter you choose should be sensitive enough to measure light levels as low as 25 to 50 lux with a reasonable degree of accuracy (10% or better). Ultraviolet Meter: The Crawford UV Monitor is the standard piece of equipment used in museums for measuring UV levels. This monitor gives UV readings in microwatts per lumen. Older models depended n adjusting a knob until one red indicator light jumped to another light, giving a fairly inaccurate measure. Newer models are more accurate, providing the reading on a direct analog scale. There are also models of UV meters from different manufacturers that will provide a digital readout. Use a standard set of procedures when monitoring light levels with either piece of equipment. Aim the sensor toward the light source

so you are catching the light that is hitting the object you are monitoring. Be sure no shadows from your hand or body are in the way. Make sure the sensor is parallel to the surface of the object and aimed toward the light source. If the object is larger than about one foot square, take several readings. Before using any equipment, carefully read the manufacturers instructions for operation and maintenance. 2.11.2- Is there any way to directly monitor light damage? You can directly monitor light damage by using Blue Wool light standards. Blue Wool light standards are specially dyed textiles made so that the most sensitive sample fades in half the time needed to fade the next most sensitive sample. There are eight samples to a set. You can use the Blue Wool standards in two ways: Place one set of standards at the place you want to measure. Place another set in total darkness. Place aluminum foil over one half of a set of standards. By comparing the two sets of standards, or two halves of one set, you can determine the light fastness of a material. The standards will not help you estimate how much exposure to light a material will stand in a particular situation. You can use Blue Wool standards to help you make an argument that light damage is occurring and that changes are needed to protect museum objects. 2.11.3-. How do I control light levels? All light causes damage and the damage is cumulative. Therefore, you must control all light in museum spaces that contain museum objects. There are several control methods that you can use. Be creative and use a variety of strategies to minimize light. Always monitor before and after to be sure that your changes have really helped. Remember, your eye is not a good tool for measuring light levelsuse monitors. Visible light must be maintained at or below the recommended levels. You can obtain these levels using any of the control methods below: Use window coverings such as blinds, shades, curtains, shutters, and exterior awnings. Close window coverings as much as possible to prevent light from reaching museum spaces. If windows must be uncovered for visitors, install UV filters and work out schedules so that windows are uncovered for only part of each day. Use opaque dust covers (for example, cotton muslin or Gortex) to cover light-sensitive objects, including floor coverings. Dust covers should be used whenever visitors are not present for extended periods. They are useful in storage areas and exhibit areas that are not open to the public for part of the year. You can use tinted light filters (for example, films or glazing) on windows or over artificial lighting. Dont use reflective films or tints that call attention to the windows or are historically inappropriate. Consult the park or regional historic architect and your regional/SO curator to be sure filters are appropriate. You can reduce the amount of light from fixtures by using colored filters, lowering the wattage of incandescent bulbs, using fewer fixtures, using flood light bulbs instead of spots, and turning off lights when people are not present. You can install motion detectors in exhibit areas that activate lighting only when a person is present. You can attach timers so that lights are on only for a specific period of time. Use incandescent lights (which produce very little UV) instead of fluorescent lights. Ultraviolet light should be completely eliminated. All of the techniques used to limit visible light will also cut down on UV light. To block the remaining UV light: Install filtering material. Types of filters include: - UV filtering film for windows or glass on framed objects - UV filtering plexiglass instead of glass - filter sleeves for fluorescent tubes - UV filtered fluorescent tubes The plastic material that carries the UV filtering coating often breaks down faster than the filtering chemical. You should replace filters whenever they begin to turn yellow or crack. Monitor UV radiation at least every five years to be sure the filtering material is still effective. Infrared radiation (heat) generated by natural or artificial lighting should also be controlled to prevent rapid changes in relative humidity. Window coverings and filters and good air

circulation systems (for example, fans and air conditioners) help control heat buildup. You can control the heat produced by artificial lighting fixtures by using filters and good air circulation systems, as well as keeping lights outside exhibit cases. Floodlights used for professional and motion picture photography and photocopy machines can cause excessive heat buildup. Discourage photography in museum storage areas. When photography is allowed in museum areas request heat absorbing light filters and be sure the area is well-ventilated with fans or air conditioners. Lights should be turned off whenever filming is not taking place. If lighted rehearsals are necessary, use dummy objects until the final filming will take place. 2.11.4-Choosing UV-Filtering Window Films In the past 20 years, the market has become saturated with window films with different performance criteria. Some are designed to reflect sunlight and keep interiors cool. Others strengthen glass and help prevent damage from vandalism. Still others filter various parts of the light spectrum. The films that have been of interest in museums are the so-called solar screens that filter part or all ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Unfortunately, not all of the solar films meet museum standards, and the product literature available from the manufacturers is very often confusing and sometimes misleading. Electromagnetic Spectrum To understand how these films perform, you need to know something about the light spectrum itself. Lightboth visible and UV is a very small part of the electromagnetic spectrum, which ranges from cosmic rays on the short-wave end, to radio waves on the long wave end. All forms of electromagnetic radiation are classified according to wavelengths. Wavelengths are measured in nanometers (nm). A nanometer is one billionth of a meter. The only part of the light spectrum we can see is the visible segment (between 400 and 760 nm). We are all aware, however, of the harm done by UV radiation. This is the part of the spectrum that we try to eliminate completely in a museum setting. The atmosphere filters the shorter end of UV radiation. Window glass filters a bit more, so we are only concerned about the radiation with wavelengths from about 325 to 400nm. Almost any solar film on the market filters to about 380nm. Very few films filter the complete UV spectrum. Most of the product literature for solar films states 98% of UV filtered. The question is 98% of what? Although not stated in the product literature, most films filter 98% of UV in the range of 325 to 380nm. For a museum, this is not enough. There is another source for confusion. We dont measure UV in a museum in nanometers. The UV meters measure in microwatts per lumen (watts/lumen). This is a measure of the proportion (or percentage) of total UV in the light you are measuring. In the late 1970s when the standards for museum lighting were first consolidated in: The Museum Environment by Garry Thomson, the standard was based on the amount of UV radiation put out by an incandescent light bulb. That amount is between 40 and 70 watts/lumen, and as a result, the level thought to be acceptable was set at 50 watts/lumen. Since that time, technology has improved substantially, and there are light bulbs and filtration methods available that reduce UV to 5- 10 watts/lumen. This is far below the commonly accepted and current NPS standard to not allow UV radiation to exceed 50 watts per lumen. Choosing UV-filtering Window Films Place film over a window or over a fluorescent lamp. Make sure to block out the light around the film so that the reading from your meter is accurate. (Put the meter directly against the film to make sure that you are not measuring light that isnt being filtered.) A Crawford-type meter that uses a dial only gives a range instead of a specific number of watts/lumen. In general, if a film is performing to standard, you wont be able to get a low number reading on a Crawford meter because the film is filtering all of the UV that the meter can read. This means that the film meets museum standards. The newer, electronic meters give a specific number of watts/lumen. This figure should be at 50 or, preferably, lower. Film Characteristics In addition to the filtering capability, there are aesthetic choices to consider when choosing films. Some of the films that are effective in controlling UV have metallic surfaces or are very dark colors. These would be inappropriate for a historic house. Other film characteristics such as shatter resistance may be desirable, but unavailable on films that filter the full range of UV light. The effects of UV radiation on museum collections can be eliminated with the technology we have available today. Compared to other forms of

environmental control and with an effective life of 8-15 years, purchase and installation of UV filtering films on windows and in front of artificial light sources is a relatively inexpensive aspect of collections care. 2.12. Dust and Gaseous Air Pollution Air pollution comes from contaminants produced outside and inside museums. Common pollutants include: dirt, which includes sharp silica crystals; grease, ash, and soot from industrial smoke; sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and nitrogen dioxide from industrial pollution; formaldehyde, and formic and acetic acid from a wide variety of construction materials; ozone from photocopy machines and printers; and a wide variety of other materials that can damage museum collections. Air pollutants are divided into two types: Particulate pollutants (for example, dirt, dust, soot, ash, molds, and fibers) Gaseous pollutants (for example, sulphur dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde, ozone, formic and acetic acids) 2.12.1.What are particulate air pollutants? Particulate pollutants are solid particles suspended in the air. Particulate matter comes both from outdoor and indoor sources. These particles are mainly dirt, dust, mold, pollen, and skin cells, though a variety of other materials are mixed in smaller amounts. The diameter of these pollutants is measured in microns (1/1,000,000 of a meter). Knowing the particulate size is important when you are determining the size of air filters to use in a building. Some particles, such as silica, are abrasive. Pollen, mold and skin cells can be attractive to pests. Particulates are particularly dangerous because they can attract moisture and gaseous pollutants. Particulates can interact with gaseous pollutants and cause deterioration in three different ways. Particulates may be: A source for sulfates and nitrates (These particles readily become acidic on contact with moisture.) A catalyst for chemical formation of acids from gases An attractant for moisture and gaseous pollutants 2.12.2-What are gaseous air pollutants? Gaseous pollutants are reactive chemicals that can attack museum objects. These pollutants come from both indoor and outdoor sources. Outdoor pollutants are brought indoors through a structures HVAC system or open windows. There are three main types of outdoor pollution: Sulfur dioxide (SO2), and hydrogen sulphide (H2S) produced by burning fossil fuels, sulfur bearing coal, and other organic materials Nitrogen oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), produced by any kind of combustion, such as car exhaust as well as deteriorating nitrocellulose film, negatives, and objects Ozone (O3), produced by sunlight reacting with pollutants in the upper atmosphere and indoors by electric or light equipment, such as photocopy machines, printers, some air filtering equipment When sulfur and nitrogen compounds combine with moisture and other contaminants in the air, sulfuric acid or nitric acid is produced. This acid then causes deterioration in a wide variety of objects. Ozone reacts directly with the objects causing deterioration. The main sources of indoor air pollution come from building materials and include: Wood, which can release acids Plywood and particle board, which give off acids from wood and formaldehyde and acids from glues Unsealed concrete, which releases minute alkaline particles Some paints and varnishes, which release organic acids, peroxides, and organic solvents Fabrics and carpeting with finishes, such as urea-formaldehyde, and wool fabrics that release sulfur compounds. Glues, used to attach carpets, that can release formaldehyde Plastics that release plasticizers and harmful degradation products such

as phthalates and acids. Museum objects themselves may also contribute to indoor air pollution. For example, many plastics are inherently unstable and as they deteriorate they give off acidic by-products. Examples of sources of pollutants from museum objects include: Celluloid and other unstable plastics used to produce many 20th-century objects Cellulose nitrate and diacetate plastic, used for film Pyroxylin impregnated cloth used for book bindings Residual fumigants, such as ethylene oxide 2.13-. Monitoring and Controlling Particulate and Gaseous Air Pollution As with problems from other agents of deterioration, you need to monitor your collections to identify whether or not air pollution is causing damage to your collections. 2.13.1-How do I monitor air pollution? There are a variety of monitoring devices that can be used to directly measure pollutants in the museum. If you feel direct measurement is needed, contact your regional/SO curator for assistance. There are other steps you can take to identify and understand air pollution levels. Inspect storage spaces (for example, floors, open shelving, tops of cabinets and tables) for dust. Note how much dust has built-up since the last cleaning. Watch for increased insect activity using your IPM program. Increased insect activity is often related to an unacceptable accumulation of dust. In coastal areas, watch for pollution from chlorides by observing and noting active corrosion on metal objects. Chlorides will react with unpainted iron or steel objects, causing rust. Observe and document a buildings air control system and the nature of the structure. Concrete walls and adobe are sources of high levels of dust. Some concrete dating from 1940-1975 contains asbestos, making it a health risk as well as a source of particulates. Improperly filtered air intakes can transfer high levels of pollutants into museum spaces. Identify exhibit cases, storage cabinets, and shelving made out of untreated wood or painted with the wrong paints that can outgas formaldehyde and acetic acid. Watch to see how much dust and dirt is tracked into spaces by visitors and employees. 2.13.2-Are there ways to monitor for air pollution? There are several ways to monitor air pollutants that are simple to use in museums. Each has good points and bad points so before you choose one method, investigate each type of monitor and evaluate the type of information you want to recover. Oddy tests: Oddy tests have been used for some time as a simple method of evaluating materials that are used in contact with objects in storage or on exhibit. In this test, metal coupons (small samples of metal) are placed in a closed container with the material being tested and a small amount of moisture. The container is slightly heated and after a set amount of time, the metal is examined for corrosion. It gives you some idea of how safe a material is and whether or not it will cause deterioration? Problems with this test include: Unusual reactionsbecause heat and moisture are raised in the container, reactions may occur that would not happen in a normal museum environment Little reproducibilityfor a variety of reasons, results from this test are widely variable Passive sampling devices: These are devices that absorb particular pollutants. They are placed in the area you want to test for some period of time and then removed and sent to a lab to be tested for presence and levels of pollutants. Each passive sampling device measures one type of pollutant. For example, one device will measure for formaldehyde, another for acetic acid. However, there are problems with these devices: They may require off-site analysis. The devices have varying sensitivities. Use devices that can detect gaseous pollutant in parts per billion (1:1,000,000,000 ppb) or lower levels. A-D strips. These strips detect acetic acid. They were developed to detect and measure acetate film deterioration or vinegar syndrome in film collections. They change color as the level of acidity increases. They are used to set priorities for film reformatting. 2.13.3-How do I control air pollution?

Eliminate gaseous and particulate pollution to the lowest practical level. There is no minimum acceptable level of pollution. You can do the following to reduce levels of air pollution: In storage spaces, keep floors, tops of cabinets, and work surfaces clean to minimize dust accumulation. Work with custodial staff to keep areas clean. Use high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuums which catch more particulates. Regular vacuum cleaners simply throw many smaller particles up into the air. Separate office and curatorial work spaces from museum collections storage spaces. Areas that are not accessed often will stay cleaner than high traffic areas. Upgrade and maintain seals and weather stripping around doors and windows to keep pollutants out. Store sensitive objects in appropriate museum specimen cabinets. Maintain sound gaskets on all storage cabinets. Replace old gaskets with neoprene gaskets. Store archival materials in boxes, map cases, and folders. Use dust covers to protect objects on open shelving. Dust cover material should be chemically and physically non-damaging and provide as complete a dust seal as possible, while allowing easy access. Use clear polyethylene sheeting. Segregate objects that outgas pollutants (for example cellulose nitrate negatives or objects, diacetate negatives, or hardwoods such as oak, birch or beechwood) from other objects. Store, exhibit, and transport objects in appropriate cases. Avoid using exhibit materials (for example, hardwoods) that outgas organic acids. The adhesives used in plywood and veneers may be a source of pollutants. In areas with high air pollution levels you may want to install pollution filtering in your HVAC system. These filters extract gaseous and particulate pollutants before they get into a museum space. Work with HVAC engineers to design a system appropriate to your facility. Do not use filtering systems that generate damaging ozone. You can use portable air filters with activated-carbon filters to remove particulates from the air. These filters will also remove some gaseous pollutants. Storage and Exhibit Construction Materials Known to Release Harmful Substances Materials Harmful Vapors Wood (particularly oak, birch, beech) organic acids, Wood panel products organic acids, formaldehyde, Protein-based glues, wool volatile sulfides, Vulcanized rubber volatile sulfides. Some dyes sulfur compounds, cellulose nitrate nitrogen oxides, cellulose acetate acetic acid polyvinyl chloride hydrogen chloride, and polyurethanes volatile additives Storage and Exhibit Construction Materials That appear to be Safe Metals, glass, ceramics, inorganic pigments, polyethylene and polypropylene, acrylic solutions (some acrylic emulsions are suspect), polyester fibers, cotton and linen Note: while these materials are considered safe, manufacturing processes may add coatings and additives that can damage museum collections.


PREVETION OF BIOLOGICAL INFESTATIONS 3.1- What information will I find in this chapter? This chapter contains information on: pests that can damage museum collections setting up an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan for museum collections Mold and other microorganisms identification and control 3.2-What are museum pests? Museum pests are biological agents that can cause damage to museum collections. Insects, mold, mice, rats, birds, and bats are all museum pests. The damage pests do comes from

feeding or nesting behavior or by attracting other types of pests. Pests that regularly damage museum collections can be roughly grouped as: fabric pests, wood pests, stored product pests, moisture pests, and general pests Identifying an insect and its life stage is critical in determining what is happening in the areas being monitored. This chapter gives only brief descriptions of some types of pests. Many other pests may be found. 3.3- What do I do if I find live pests in the museum? Follow these steps to stop an infestation and prevent it from recurring. -Dont panic. If you rush to kill the pests you may cause more harm to the artifact (and to yourself) than if you leave the pests alone for a short time. Be thoughtful about each step you take. Remove pests safely and set up a program to keep the infestation from recurring. -If an infestation is found on objects, isolate them immediately. Put the infested objects in a sealed plastic bag. Dont carry infested material through the collection without isolating it. You can drop eggs or larvae that can spread the infestation. -Identify the pests. You may find that insects you see are not museum pests. More information on pests and identification is included in later in this chapter. -Determine the extent of the infestation. Start at the site where the first infested object was found and inspect the collections/areas in ever widening circles. Isolate infested materials as they are found and document the findings. -Determine the source of the infestation. If the problem is gaps in the building structure, collaborate with appropriate staff and make repairs to the building. If infested materials were brought into the collection, evaluate and modify the policies and procedures that allowed this to happen. -Develop a treatment strategy. Include the following steps: Identify and document the pest and its development stage. Identify the materials in the infested object. -Based on these findings, answer the following questions: Can you simply remove the pest? Are eggs present? What is the least damaging approach to treatment? -There are a number of options for treatment described below. Only after youve considered all options should you treat the object. -After treatment, clean the artifacts to remove dead pests and waste. Dead pests, larval skins, and nests can all attract new pests. -Document the treatment. More information on documentation is included later in this chapter. 3.4. Identification of Museum Pests 3.4.1. What are fabric pests? Fabric pests are protein eaters. The two main groups are carpet beetles (of the family Dermestidae) or clothes moths (of the family Tineidae). The larvae of these types of insects feed on animal products used in museum collections, such as wool, fur, feathers, and horns. -Carpet beetles are also commonly known as dermestids. Carpet beetle larvae cause damage by feeding on a wide variety of materials including fur, feathers, wool and silk cloth, wool felt, hair, study skins, and trophy mounts. They may not be seen because they hide from light, burrowing deep into artifacts. The larvae shed their skins as they grow and these skins are one of the signs of infestation to watch for. The adults are attracted to light and come out of hiding to mate. They may collect along windowsills. There are many species of carpet beetles, the most common of them Black carpet beetle (Attagenus unicolor), Varied carpet beetle (Anthrenus verbasci), Common carpet beetle (Anthrenus scrophulariae) and Furniture carpet beetle (Anthrenus flavipes) -Clothes moths are small, silvery-beige moths with a wingspan of less than 1/2". They have narrow wings fringed with long hairs. Small grain- and flour-infesting moths are often confused with clothes moths, however, clothes moths have different flying habits. They avoid light and are rarely seen flying. They prefer dark corners, closets, and storage areas, and usually remain out of sight. The primary food of clothes moth larvae is soiled woolens, but they also feed on

silk, felt, fur, feathers, and hairs. In museums they often damage wool clothes, feather hats, dolls and toys, bristle brushes, weavings, and wall hangings. 3.4.2. What are wood pests? Materials made of wood are susceptible to attack by a number of wood infesting pests. The culprits in museums are usually wood boring beetles or Dry wood termites. Both can severely damage valuable artifacts while remaining invisible to the untrained eye. -Woodboring beetles are a group of beetles in the insect families Anobiidae (anobiid, furniture, and deathwatch beetles), Lyctidae (true powder post beetles), and Bostrichidae (false powder post beetles). The term "powder post" comes from the fact that the larvae of these beetles feed on wood and, given enough time, can reduce it to a mass of fine powder. Wood boring beetles spend months or years inside the wood in the larval stage. Their presence is only apparent when they emerge from the wood as adults, leaving pin hole openings, often called "shot holes," behind and piles of powdery frass (digested wood that looks somewhat like sawdust) below. Items in museums that can be infested by wood boring beetles include wooden artifacts, frames, furniture, tool handles, gunstocks, books, toys, bamboo, flooring, and structural timbers. -Drywood termites, unlike their cousins the subterranean termites, establish colonies in dry, sound wood with low levels of moisture, and they do not require contact with the soil. The termites feed across the grain of the wood, excavating chambers connected by small tunnels. The galleries feel sandpaper smooth. Dry, six-sided fecal pellets are found in piles where they have been kicked out of the chambers. The pellets may also be found in spider webs or in the galleries themselves. A swarming flight of winged reproductive termites can occur anytime from spring to fall. Most drywood termites swarm at night, often flying to lights. 3.4.3. What are moisture pests? Not only is moisture a threat to museum specimens on its own, it may attract a number of moisture-loving pests that can do additional damage. Molds can be a big problem in damp conditions and can attract insects in the order Psocoptera that feed on those molds. Molds are fungi that can cause damage or disintegration of organic matter. Basically plants without roots, stems, leaves, or chlorophyll, molds occur nearly everywhere. When moisture and other environmental conditions are right, molds can appear and cause significant damage to wood, textiles, books, fabrics, insect specimens, and many other items in a collection. Their growth can be rapid under the right conditions. It is important to realize that fungal spores, basically the "seeds" of the fungus, are practically everywhere. Whether molds attack suitable hosts in a museum depends almost exclusively on one factormoisture. When moisture becomes a problem, molds will likely become a problem too. For this reason museum objects should not be stored in humidity above 65%. Be aware, however, that some molds can grow at a lower humidity. 3.4.4. What are general pests (perimeter invaders)? Any household pest may become a pest in a museum. Many kinds of pests can get into a building that has not been well sealed. Cockroaches, crickets, silverfish, ants, millipedes, and other common pests can invade and infest a museum as well as a house or other structure. Mice, rats, birds and bats can also infest museum collections and buildings. They can cause direct damage to collections through nesting and feeding behavior. Their nests will also attract many other kinds of insects that can then move into the collections. German cockroaches (Blatella germanica) are omnivorous. They are familiar as they are the most common cockroach found in the United States. They feed on leather, paper, glues, animal skins, and hair. Damage to objects is caused by chewing. They are especially attracted to objects stained with sweat. They can also stain objects by depositing various bodily fluids. House crickets (Acheta domesticus) commonly come into buildings at the onset of cold weather. Like german cockroaches they are omnivorous and will eat protein and cellulosic materials. These include textiles (wool, silk, linen, cotton), leather, and animal skins and fur. They are especially attracted to stains.

Silverfish (Lepisma saccharina) and firebrats (Thermobia domestica) will eat fabrics, paper and sizing, and glue and paste in book bindings. They are omnivorous, so will eat protein materials as well as cellulose. They are especially damaging in dark, damp storage areas. They have a distinct carrot shaped body, short legs, long slender antennae, and three tail-like appendages. 3.5- Integrated Pest Management (IPM) 3.5.1. What is Integrated Pest Management? Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a decision-making process that helps you determine if, when, and where you need pest suppression. It helps you develop a strategy to keep pests from attacking collections. IPM uses a variety of techniques to prevent and solve pest problems using pesticides only as a last resort. It depends on knowledge of a pests habits, ecology and the environment in which it thrives and survives. IPM is also site specific and adaptable to any museum. It provides a structure in which to make responsible decisions about treating pests. Museum IPM has two goals: -protect the museum and its collections from pests -reduce the amount of pesticides used in collections 3.5.2. Why should I use IPM? Pesticides can be health hazards for staff. Exposure to pesticides used incorrectly can cause acute symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and breathing difficulty. Exposure can also cause chronic effects such as seizures, skin and eye irritation, and memory defects. Many pesticides are carcinogens or suspected carcinogens and human teratogens. For your own safety, as well as that of your offspring, visitors, and researchers, pesticide use should be carefully considered and only applied following label directions. 3.5.3. What types of damage can pesticides do to museum objects? Pesticides can cause the following damage: -metal corrosion, including iron, brass, and other light color metals -deterioration of proteins, such as fur, feathers, leather, wool, horsehair -deterioration of paper -shrinking, stiffening, or softening of plastics -color change in dyes and pigments -staining from surface and vapor contact Museums have routinely used pesticides in collections for years. Many of these materials leave residues on museum artifacts. Search collection documentation for records of previous pesticide use. Be aware, however, that users often did not record pesticide use. Be sure to take precautions when handling the objects. 3.5.4. What are the components of an IPM Program? Each of these components is on-going and the whole process is cyclical in nature. To carry out an effective IPM program you should: -Build consensus by working with other staff in the museum. IPM requires coordinated strategies to be effective. -Identify pests that can cause damage to your collections. -Review NPS policy to understand how IPM works and your responsibilities when using chemical treatments. -Establish priorities to focus on tasks in an organized fashion. For example, set up a monitoring program in areas of the collection that contain sensitive botanical specimens first. -Establish action thresholds. How many insects in a collection are too many? -Monitor pests and environmental factors. -Implement non-chemical management. Modify pest habitats, use good housekeeping, and use non-chemical treatments such as freezing and anoxic environments. If needed, review and obtain approval for an appropriate chemical pesticide. Treatments should only be done when pests have been found and identified. -Evaluate results to be sure your strategies are working. -Document monitoring and treatments.

3.6. Monitoring 3.6.1. Why should I monitor for pests and monitor the environment? Monitoring for pests and monitoring the environment provide you with different kinds of information. This includes baseline information on your museum, the insects in your collection environment. How pests got into the museum? If conditions will support pest activity, where pests are in the museum, whether your actions are changing the environment, and how many pests there are in the museum and if your control strategies are working. Taken together, these two types of monitoring can help you determine strategies to eliminate future access and survival of pests in the collection. Monitoring can also help you evaluate the effectiveness of any treatment action you take. 3.6.2. How do I know where to monitor? When developing a monitoring strategy, think about the resource that you are trying to protect and the kinds of pests that will cause damage to the resource. For example, will you expect mostly protein eaters because of lots of wool textiles? Are the collections in a historic, poorly sealed building with a damp basement? Think through what kind of pests will be attracted to your collections. Also think about the kind of pests that will be supported in the environment in your building. Then aim your monitoring strategy to find out if those kinds of pests are present. Work with your park and regional IPM coordinators to develop a thoughtful strategy to identify pests for the collections in your museum. 3.6.3. What does pest damage look like? Different pests cause different types of damage. Evidence of pests includes: holes chewing marks hair loss webbing cast skins grazed surfaces frass (insect waste, which is usually a soft powdery material) fecal pellets 3.6.4. How do I monitor for pests? Monitoring relies on a variety of techniques. Routine inspection of objects: Visually inspect the collection to look for cast larval skins, holes in textiles, piles of frass, cut hairs around and below artifacts. Do spot checks at least every six months; check more vulnerable objects like biological specimens and ethnographic objects more often. Routine inspection of the building: You must also routinely inspect the building to look for signs of insects that may get into your collections. Check windowsills and door jams especially carefully. Trapping: Identify pests moving into and throughout the building. Using traps allows you to zero in on problem areas where pests may be getting into a building, or where you have infested collections. Documentation: Document your inspection and trapping program carefully so that you have a record of problems that can be evaluated over time. 3.6.5. What kinds of traps should I use? There are three main types of insect traps. Use them in combination. Decide which kind of trap is most appropriate for a particular place and for the problem you have. Sticky traps collect bugs on an adhesive base. They are sometimes known as roach motels and come in a box or tent shape. They are available from a wide variety of manufacturers. For general purpose the tent shaped traps are the best. Replace them regularly as the adhesive will dry out and become ineffective. Pheromone traps are usually sticky traps that include a pheromone attractant specific to one species of insect. These are only available for webbing clothes moths, drug store beetles, cigarette beetles, and the German cockroach.

Light traps are useful for detecting and controlling flying insects. They emit ultraviolet light (black light) that attracts flying insects, particularly flies and moths. The insects are drawn toward the light and trapped by a glue board or in a bag. Windows also act as passive light traps so windowsills should also be carefully monitored. 3.6.6. What actions should I take to keep pests out? Cultural controls and mechanical controls are two basic types of actions you can use to prevent insects from getting into and thriving in your collection. Cultural controls are policies and procedures that you can implement. Mechanical controls are techniques to limit pest habitats and close off areas where pests get into the building. Cultural controls include: inspecting any material (new accessions, loans, storage material) before it comes into collections areas developing good housekeeping and interior maintenance programs restricting food and smoking in the museum barring live and dried plants inside and eliminating plants and mulch next to the building developing environmental controls for a stable, low humidity putting objects into closed storage and exhibit cases whenever possible Mechanical controls include: installing self-closing devices, sweeps and gaskets on exterior doors installing screening on floor drains removing ivy and plants growing on the structure cleaning gutters regularly closing windows and installing 20 mesh screening eliminating clutter, including cardboard, which is very attractive to insects minimizing dust using a vacuum cleaner instead of a broom to clean floors and structures caulking or otherwise blocking all holes in the building structure using sodium vapor lighting, which is less attractive to insects, for exterior fixtures 3.6.7. How do I know when I have a problem and must take some action? Set a threshold. A threshold is the point at which you will take some action to remove or prevent the pest. Decide how many pests you must see or trap in an area before taking action. The action will usually not be a pesticide treatment. Establishing a regular vacuuming program is also an action. The threshold is site-specific for each museum. For example, finding one insect near the door may not warrant action, but it does warrant increased vigilance. Finding an insect in a closed cabinet warrants action. You can expect to trap more insects in historic buildings than in new visitor centers. Decide on your thresholds before you start a monitoring program. 3.6.8. How do I know if the IPM strategy is effective? Regularly evaluate your strategy. Analyze your survey forms. Are you seeing fewer pests in your traps? Have you stopped infestations? If your strategy is working, all your time will be spent on prevention and maintenance and none on dealing with live pests and infestations in the collections. 3.7.-Controlling Insect Pests: Alternatives To Pesticides This is an overview of techniques that can be used instead of pesticides when a pest infestation is found in collections. It will help you decide on an appropriate treatment when a pest infestation is found in collections. Treatments such as these should only be considered as part of an overall Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy to protect collections. Even with IPM, infestations can occur. When infestations are discovered, choosing the pest control method best suited to a particular problem can be a difficult decision. Prevention is always better than the cure, but when pests are found in objects or in the building some remedial action may be necessary. When you find pests: l Isolate any objects suspected of being infested to prevent spread of infestation to other objects. Some objects can be sealed

in polyethylene ziplock bags for monitoring and to prevent insects from spreading. When you find a pest l Identify the pest and its biology (life cycle and behavior). l Clean infested areas and destroy insect bodies and debris. Decide on the most appropriate treatment for the object and environment. Consideration must be given to the objects general composition and condition and so consult with a conservator before deciding what to do. The use of an inappropriate method can cause damage to collection materials and serious health hazards to the staff and public. Because of the health and environmental risks posed by the use of poisonous fumigant gases there has been a great deal of effort in the museum world to search for safe and effective alternatives. Each of the following options to the higher risk toxic fumigants have advantages and disadvantages which must be carefully evaluated in light of the type of the collections, the individual situation and the resources available. 3.8-Temperature Treatments 3.8.1-Low temperature. Freezing kills insects by rapid temperature change. It is a widely used treatment for many objects such as natural history specimens and textiles but, unless proper procedures are observed, some damage can occur to objects. Composite, fragile or unstable materials should not be subjected to extremes of temperature. Temperatures in the freezer should be 18OC or below. It is better to use a deep freeze unit rather than a common household freezer and self-defrosting freezers should never be used. The freezer should be capable of reducing the temperature in the objects within 24 hours to be effective. If the items are stored in cold climate and then frozen very slowly, some insects will become acclimated and will not succumb to freezing. It may take much longer for the cold to penetrate large objects or tightly rolled tapestries and skins. The temperature in the center of test materials should be recorded to check that the target temperature has been achieved. It is not advisable to freeze wet specimens unless this is to prevent bacterial and fungal decay. The objects must be sealed in polyethylene plastic bags prior to freezing to prevent damage by RH changes and moisture migration. An absorbent organic buffering material, such as acid-free paper, can be added to the bag to help control the RH. In the past it was thought a double freezing at -18OC was necessary to kill all stages of insects but more recent work has shown that a single exposure for at least 2 weeks at - 18OC will kill all of the pest species. If the freezer can reach colder temperatures (-30C) an L exposure of at least 3 days should be enough. When removed, objects must not be unsealed from the bags until they have reached room temperature to prevent condensation on the object. However, if there are many insects in the building then objects can be left in the polyethylene bags to provide some protection from further insect attack. 3.8.2-Heating. Heating will kill insects much more rapidly than freezing but it is essential to ensure that elevated temperatures do not harm objects. In the past a number of museums used ovens to disinfect insect collections and this often resulted in brittle specimens and cracked storage drawers. Recent work has shown that damage due to shrinkage and distortion can be eliminated by controlling the humidity around the object. If objects are bagged when they are heated to 55OC then humidity in the enclosure is stable and the object is not damaged. As with low temperature treatments, it is inadvisable to subject composite, fragile, or unstable materials to extremes of high temperature. This method offers possibilities in the near future for rapid and safe treatment of some objects. Until specific techniques are developed and published heat treatment should not be used except with guidance from a conservator with experience in heat treatment. Microwaves have been used for rapid treatment of books, papers and herbarium specimens but there can be undesirable side effects as the heating may be uneven and localized overheating may occur. In addition, unnoticed metallic objects such as paperclips may cause sparking and ignition of specimens and paper. This technique is not considered safe for use with museum collections.

3.8.3-Modified Atmosphere Treatments Modified atmosphere treatments have been developed as a direct replacement for fumigation with toxic fumigants and the techniques and procedures used are in some cases very similar. 3.8.4-Anoxia. The procedure kills insects by the exclusion of oxygen (anoxia), and therefore oxygen levels must be very low, less than 0.1% . This can only be achieved in an airtight chamber, or in individual bags made of a special oxygen barrier film. The speed of the treatment in killing insects is dependent upon temperature, at temperatures of 25OC and above, 2 to 3 weeks should be sufficient to kill pests. However, at temperatures of 20C or below, very long exposures of 4 or 5 weeks may be needed to kill some species such as wood borers. Large objects can be treated using nitrogen from cylinders. Small objects can be treated in sealed bags using an oxygen scavenger such as Ageless TM (produced by the Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company). Nitrogen. Nitrogen has proven to be a very effective and safe method for treatment of sensitive objects. Building a nitrogen treatment chamber may be expensive because of the need for absolute gas-tightness. Conversion of an existing fumigation chamber used for ethylene oxide or methyl bromide is feasible but also can be expensive because of the need for additional sealing and pipework. A cylinder and bag method is less expensive to set up initially. An accurate oxygen meter must be purchased and gas 1 cylinders must be stored in compliance with local fire and safety regulations. An important consideration is that the relative humidity (RH) of nitrogen gas is less than 5 %. which would be detrimental to the materials being treated. It is therefore essential to add a simple humidification system to the gas supply line. This technique is probably beyond the resources and needs of most small museums of Ageless may be high if large objects are treated. Some museums use a combination of nitrogen flushing and Ageless for treatment of large objects. Ageless will also slow any degradative processes requiring oxygen, such as mold growth or oxidative chemical reactions. other types of Ageless will absorb both oxygen and moisture and therefore have applications for collection care other than insect eradication. Small museums can use Ageless to treat individual objects. A number of museums now use Ageless, a scavenger of gaseous oxygen for treatment of individual specimens. Ageless is composed of moist, active, iron oxide powder encased in a porous packet. Oxygen in the atmosphere penetrates the packet and further oxidizes the powder. A slight amount of heat moisture is produced by the reaction, but if the and packets are spaced apart and kept out of contact with objects then heat and moisture do not build up enough to damage the material being treated. The small amount of additional moisture will have no measurable effect on well-buffered absorbent materials such as textiles or natural history specimens but it is better to wrap more sensitive non-absorbent material in buffering cloth or acid-free tissue paper. Ageless will work most effectively only by enclosing the object to be treated in a bag made from a special oxygen barrier film. It is useless to use ordinary polyethylene, as this is porous to oxygen. The bag should be big enough to accommodate the object to be treated with a few inches excess, which will become the seam of the bag when it is heat-sealed. The number of Ageless packets to be used should be calculated from the type of packet and the volume of the bag. An indicator called Ageless Eye can be used to show that levels of below 0.1 o/o oxygen have been achieved. Objects should be left for at least three weeks at 25OC to kill all stages of insect pests. With this system, set-up costs are lower than with the cylinder treatment but costs 3.8.5-Carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide treatment has been widely accepted in the food industry for many years and the technique has been adapted for use by museums. The treatment procedure used for CO2 is similar to that used for nitrogen in chambers or bubbles. As with nitrogen, the gas works slowly, particularly at low temperatures and some treatments add slight heating of the chamber to 30C to increase insect metabolic rates. This method also requires use of a meter to monitor the percentage of CO2 in the chamber during the exposure period. Levels of CO2

need to be about 60% and unlike nitrogen, the treatment is effective even with some leakage of oxygen into the enclosure. Because of this, CO2 is far more practical than nitrogen for treatment of large objects and enclosures. However, it is important to check on local safety procedures and regulations before proceeding, as there may be some restrictions on the use of this treatment in some states. There have been some concerns that CO2 will react with water to produce carbonic acid but there is no evidence that this will happen at the usual range of humidities and moisture contents used for treatment of museum objects. Contact your IPM coordinator or local pest control company for more information about the use of CO2. 3.8.6-Other gases. Argon and other inert gases have been used with varying degrees of success but because they are more expensive than nitrogen or carbon dioxide, it is difficult to justify their use. 3.9-Prevention Of Microorganism Growth In Museum Collections Mold is the common term used to describe a downy or furry growth on the surface of organic matter, caused by fungi, especially in the presence of dampness and decay. A fungus (pl. fungi) may be any of a large number of microorganisms that are parasites feeding on living organisms or dead organic matter. Mold is often used interchangeably with the word mildew. They are the generic terms that describe a variety of microorganisms, including fungi, algae, rusts, yeasts, and bacteria, that are agents of deterioration for museum objects. They produce irregular stains that can permanently damage an object. Collection managers must be able to recognize signs of these problems and be prepared to take preventive actions. 3.9.1-The Microorganisms Fungi are simple-celled organisms that do not need energy from light for growth. The fungi bear microscopic spores that are produced in enormous quantities, are always present in the air, and spread via air currents. They are often water repellant and are resistant to desiccation (drying out). Extreme cold and heat will destroy them. When the spores are in a favorable environment, they will germinate. What constitutes a favorable environment is different for each species. After landing on a host material, a spore must obtain sufficient moisture to germinate and find enough food. Without moisture, the spores will lie dormant until favorable conditions occur. For this reason, it is important to control the environmental conditions where museum collections are stored or exhibited. It is recommended that temperatures not exceed24C (75F) and relative humidity (RH) not rise above 65%. These conditions are maximum levels and only reduce the potential for microorganism growth. They do not eliminate the threat. Some microorganisms can grow in significantly lower temperatures and at lower RH levels. Certain materials need to be stored with lower RH levels to prevent growths. Microorganisms need organic materials to supply nutrients and, therefore, museum objects composed of organic materials are potentially at risk. Cellulose-based materials, such as cotton, linen, paper and wood, and proteinaceous materials such as leather and hair cloth are particularly susceptible to direct attack by microorganisms. 3.9.2-Damage Microorganisms will permanently damage the materials supporting them. They will stain textiles and decrease the strength of the fabric. The scattered spots known as foxing on paper prints or drawings is damage resulting from these growths. Leather is particularly susceptible to the actions of microorganisms and will be stained and weakened by them. As a by-product, fungi can produce organic acids that will corrode and etch inorganic materials. 3.9.3-Detection Often the first indication that a microorganism problem exists is a characteristic musty odor. A careful visual examination will generally locate stains that are clearly visible as pigmentations on a surface. Another means of detection is by the use of ultraviolet (UV) light. Under UV light, a microorganism growth will appear luminescent.

3.9.4-Prevention The best means to prevent or control the spread of microorganism growth is to deny the spores the moisture necessary for germination. Therefore, regulating the environment, especially the RH, is essential for preventing the deterioration of a museum collection from microorganism growth. RH levels should be routinely monitored. Spore germination is less likely to occur if RH is controlled between 45 % and 55 %, but RH should be kept below 65%. When RH levels rise above 65 % , the use of portable dehumidifiers will be necessary to reduce the moisture content of the air. A temperature between 18C and 20C (64F to 68F) should be targeted. These levels only decrease the potential of germination and growth; they do not eliminate it. Therefore, other factors, such as adequate air circulation should be maintained; a fan will help to increase circulation. Problem environmental conditions that may contribute to higher humidity levels need to be corrected. Repair leaking pipes, gutters and downspouts, cracked windows, a problem roof, deteriorated brick, masonry pointing, or cracked walls. It is also important to keep any area that houses museum collections clean and free of dust and dirt and organic debris that can nourish spores. Silica gel and other buffers can help adjust RH conditions within a sealed space, such as in a storage cabinet or exhibit case. These buffers will absorb or release moisture into the surrounding atmosphere. The quantity of buffering material to place within the space must be customized for each situation and a conservator should be consulted for assistance in determining this need. It takes time, experience, and careful monitoring to ensure that the buffers are performing as intended.